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What is PEZ®?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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PEZ® is the name for a brand of candy. PEZ® are small rectangular candies that are manufactured in flavors such as peppermint, chocolate, cola and mixed fruit. PEZ® is probably best known for its specially designed dispensers that hold the candy and feature a character head on the top. When the character head is tilted back, one piece of candy is pushed out slightly, to make it easier for the user to pull a piece of candy out.

PEZ® was invented by an Austrian confectioner named Eduard Haas in 1927. He sought to create a peppermint flavored candy, which was unheard of at that time, which he could market to adults. The brand name PEZ® was derived from the German word for peppermint, pfefferminz. Haas took the first, middle and last letters from pfefferminz and coined the brand name PEZ®.

In an attempt to broaden the appeal of PEZ® candies, Haas decided to target smokers and those who were trying to quit smoking. He believed that the peppermint candies would be a perfect breath mint for smokers, and could also be an alternative for smokers who were trying to quit, but still desired to put something in their mouths.

In his attempt to reach smokers, the company developed a new dispenser that resembled a cigarette lighter. Prior to this time, PEZ® candies were sold in small metal tins. The new dispenser along with a well known advertising campaign that featured illustrations of beautiful women known as the PEZ® girls, helped the company grow and expand.

The character head dispensers were initially developed for the U.S. market in 1955. PEZ® was imported to the U.S. in 1952, but sales were initially lackluster. The company decided to broaden its U.S. marketing campaign that had been targeted towards adults, to also include marketing to children. The company put character heads on its dispensers and introduced fruit flavored candies that would appeal more to a child’s palate than the original peppermint flavor.

PEZ® dispensers have become a collectible item, with many collectors searching for dispensers no longer manufactured or seeking to purchase new dispensers as soon as they are available. It has been estimated that the company has manufactured approximately 300 different dispensers during its history.

Today, the popularity of PEZ® brand candies and dispensers remain strong, and they are available in over 60 countries around the world.

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.

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