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A Guide to Pez Sweets: The Surprising History of the Iconic Sweet Dispenser

16/03/2018 07:18

PEZ sweets are a popular choice in many candy stores. It is rare that you’d enter a confectionary store anywhere across the globe and not find a choice of PEZ sweet to choose from. In fact, PEZ are sold in over 80 countries worldwide.

From Disney princesses, to Nintendo characters, to PEZmojis, no matter who you are or where you’re from, there’s a PEZ dispenser out there for you!

Who knew that a ‘tablet-like’, fun sweet dispenser would take the world by storm? Here we discover more about our favourite peppermint candy from the beginning to the present day…

Where does PEZ Candy come from?

Created in 1927, our parents, grandparents and, for some, even our great grandparents grew up with PEZ and now, PEZ is popular with ourselves and our children also!

So where did the popular PEZ come from and what more can we find out about this iconic sweet?

The history of the iconic PEZ candy

Invented in 1927 in Vienna, Austria, the surprising history of the PEZ candy may not be exactly what you thought of the nostalgic sweet.

After all, when the candy was invented, its inventor Eduard Haus III had created it as ‘peppermint candy’ and, therefore, it had a peppermint flavour and was sold as a peppermint sweet.

In fact, the name PEZ itself comes from creating an acronym of the German name for peppermint “Pfefferminz” (PfeffErminZ).

Nowadays, of course, PEZ is still available as a nostalgic peppermint sweet, however, it is also available in fruity flavours to appeal to various different tastes, you can even find sour fruity PEZ flavours if you want a sweet that really packs a punch. Or perhaps fizzy flavours tickle your taste-buds the most? Whatever flavour is your favourite, the niche factor with PEZ candy is, quite clearly, the shape of the candy and the fact that it can be dispensed from a PEZ branded candy dispenser.

If you’re a confectionary store, The PEZ dispensers and refill bundle stand is a great way of storing your PEZ and displaying them to customers. A great choice of product that is bound to get people browsing your sweet shop.

How is PEZ candy made?

Pez candy is designed and manufactured to fit precisely into a PEZ dispenser and for those interested, there are certain measurements a PEZ candy must adhere to.

A PEZ candy is a pressed and dry block of candy that is straight-edged and features a curve at the corner. The size of the PEZ block is always 15mm long by 8mm wide, and 5mm high.

Has PEZ always been made in this way?

Surprisingly, PEZ started as round PEZ drops and, therefore, was a slightly different shape to the PEZ brick shape we are all familiar with today. That said, the initial round shape was simply the beginning of the sweet and it was altered to become a brick shape by the end of the 1920s.

PEZ candy was originally made by Haus to be served in small, hand-size containers, essentially like the standard mint tins we often use nowadays. Haus originally used family owned baking powders to create the mints. Therefore, there may have been a few advances on the original size of the PEZ sweet.

In 1935, PEZ sweets were already proving to be popular and a factory was opened in Czechoslovakia to allow the sweets to be manufactured on a larger scale.

And the dispenser? How were the first PEZ dispensers made?

PEZ sweets were sold in small tins, ideal to fit in your pocket, until 1949 when Oscar Uxa patented a mechanical box for dispensing the sweets (these held 12 sweets, exactly the same as the modern PEZ dispenser!).  

The first PEZ mint dispensers were made in a similar style to a cigarette lighter and were called “regulars”. The clever branding behind the peppermint PEZ candy meant that the mints could be marketed as mints that could be consumed as an alternative to smoking, and also the consumer did not need to touch all the candies in order to take a sweet out of the tin.

At this point, the sweet dispensers were invented and manufactured by the company called Oscar Uxa. Haas Food Manufacturing Corporation of Vienna, who was as a result, the first company to sell PEZ products.

What happened to PEZ sweets during World War II?

Due to World War II shortages, many sweets in the industry folded, changed or emerged successfully years after the war, perhaps with a change of face or other adaptations.

PEZ were no different in the fact that the war slowed down marketing and production, meaning they were released again in 1945. This time as Pez Box Regular.

In 1952, PEZ were sold in the USA and from then on, the sweets progressed more and more. The US company PEZ was led by Curtis Allina.

When were PEZ sweets brought out for children?

Not long after PEZ was launched in the U.S, the company headed by Curtis Allina brought out PEZ sweets for children.

What they did was put a fun character’s head on the dispenser, in 1955, to add a fun element to the product. Mickey Mouse was one of the favourite characters!

How many PEZ characters are there?

Since the first PEZ characters brought out in 1955 there have been over 1500 PEZ dispensers made of various characters.

Some people have found them to be a collectable item and many have become valuable over the years.

Which PEZ dispensers are valuable?

Because PEZ have become such an iconic sweet and the dispensers have changed over the years, certain PEZ dispensers have become collectors items and worth a valuable amount of money.

There are people that collect PEZ dispensers as somewhat of a hobby.

What PEZ dispenser is the most valuable?

It is reported that one of the largest sales of a PEZ dispenser was a private sale of a Mickey Mouse head at $7,000. The most valuable PEZ dispensers are the Political Donkeys, each valued between $12,000 to $15,000, one of which was owned by JFK. It is not confirmed whether there are two or three of these political donkey dispensers currently in existence, although it is their rarity that makes them so valuable.

Other collectible PEZ dispensers are:

  • Star Wars PEZ
  • A limited-edition of the Teutul family from the motorcycle manufacturer and lifestyle brand Orange County Choppers (the first PEZ dispensers to look like the heads of people).
  • Limited edition Elvis Presley PEZ
  • The Wizard of Oz characters PEZ (only 300,000 sets made)
  • Star Trek PEZ
  • Snow White story character PEZ (only 250,000 sets made)
  • Two-piece limited edition Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
  • The Lord of the Rings PEZ
  • Monsters University PEZ
  • Hobbit gift set PEZ
  • Doctor Who PEZ

 What PEZ dispensers do we have at Appleton Sweets?

We’ve got a variety of PEZ dispensers for sale that are popular characters at the moment, particularly amongst the children, available at Appleton Sweets. Our range includes:

As you can see, from PEZ Secret Life of Pets, to PEZ Hello Kitty, to PEZ Frozen, PEZ Minions and more! Our collection of PEZ sweets is massive and bound to add fun to your confectionary store. 

Are PEZ bad for you?

Despite being built as a brand on the good health bandwagon, of course, PEZ were initially brought out as an alternative to smoking. Being a sugary treat, many people wonder if PEZ is bad for you.

As with all sweets and snacks, PEZ should be consumed on a limited basis, as part of a healthy balanced diet. The nutritional value of PEZ (per brick) is:

0g Fat

0g Protein

7.9g Carbohydrate

What is PEZ made out of?

The ingredients in the Assorted Fruit and Sourz PEZ are as follows:

Assorted Fruit: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Adipic Acid, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel & Palm Oil, Mono & Diglycerides, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Artificial Colors FD&C Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2.

Sourz: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Hydrogenated Cottonseed, Palm Kernel, Palm Oils, Mono & Diglycerides, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Artificial Colors FD&C Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 40, Green 3.

Chocolate: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel & Palm Oils, Mono & Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Color.

Cola: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Adipic Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel & Palm Oils, Artificial Flavors, Artificial Caramel Color.

Take a look at the PEZ website for the latest copy of their ingredient list.

Are PEZ candies gluten-free?

Yes. PEZ are gluten-free.

Are PEZ halal?

PEZ sweets do not contain gelatine and are free from animal products.

Are PEZ candies vegan?

Yes, PEZ are vegan.

Are PEZ dairy free?

Yes, PEZ does not contain milk or milk products. Nor does it contain lactose.

Are PEZ nut free?

Yes, PEZ are free from tree nuts and peanuts.

Is there a chance of cross contamination?

PEZ is the only sweet manufactured on the PEZ production line and, therefore, there is no chance of cross-contamination. The only chance of cross contaminated ingredients are the different flavours of PEZ.

Where are PEZ made?

PEZ sweets are produced in the PEZ factory in Orange, Connecticut, U.S, which has been running since 1973. The sweets are also produced in Traun, Austria (PEZ headquarters).

The dispensers are produced in Hungary and China.

What’s your favourite PEZ?

Enjoy browsing our range of PEZ sweets and dispensers and stocking your confectionary by an iconic sweet, that is nothing short of legendary.

Posted By Matt Appleton
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