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How Did PEZ Candy Get Its Start?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Cigarette smokers today have a variety of tools at their disposal if they decide to quit, but they are no longer urged to try a particularly sweet one: PEZ candies. When Austrian businessman Eduard Haas invented the treat in 1927, he wanted PEZ to be the go-to product for people trying to kick the habit.

Haas believed the candies' peppermint flavoring (the PEZ name is derived from the German word for peppermint, Pfefferminz) was the secret, but he had to develop a new method of candy creation that used cold manufacturing rather than boiling, which caused peppermint oil to evaporate. After that, he started targeting smokers in ads, urging them to enjoy "Deliciously fresh breath!" and proclaiming that, “No smoking, PEZing allowed!" He even hired "PEZ Girls" to stand at world monuments with the candy, "offering the public a new way to freshen breath and refrain from smoking," according to Shawn Peterson, the PEZ company's historian.

While the candy was popular in Europe, Americans weren't ready to quit smoking yet, so in the mid-1950s, the company shifted its focus, making fruity rather than minty PEZ and marketing the sweet stuff to children. That was also the decade when PEZ began selling its now-iconic pop culture-themed dispensers, which have included character heads from comic books, Star Wars, The Simpsons, and more.

A peek at PEZ:

  • Although PEZ candies have been sold in about 1,500 different dispensers, Santa Claus remains the most popular.

  • Some unusual Pez flavors have included chlorophyll, pineapple, cola, coffee, and licorice.

  • PEZ candy is produced under 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) of pressure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005000 — On May 29, 2021

Pressure has units of pascals, not kg (or psi for you Americans).

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