It’s unusual to run across a person that doesn’t know about PEZ. You know…the PEZ candy and dispensers. Most of us happily accept the rectangular orange, cherry, lemon or strawberry sugary sweetness when offered, all of which are PEZ’s original fruity flavors. Yep, the candy can give you that quick sugar fix but what really grabs interest and garners international attention within the PEZ community, is the dispensers. Oh yes, those cartoonish characters that relinquish the small rectangular hunks of confected bite-size treats are what all the noise is about. You may be accused of under-noticing these cute little characters to their fullest respect, but don’t feel guilty. Rest assured, that your slack is picked-up by the colossal posse of Pezheads. That’s right, Pezheads or PEZ collectors.
Pezheads hold gatherings, conventions, and festivals all around the world. From Austria, (the country of PEZ origin) to Myrtle Beach, Los Angeles, and Minnesota, Pezheads round up. But it’s the world’s largest and longest running hurrah that attracts legions of PEZ collectors to Cleveland, Ohio. Welcome to Pezamania!
Since 1991, thousands of Pezheads trekked to the main event from all over the states and far off lands to meet with friends, make friends, and share in the marvel of PEZ collecting. As a matter of fact, Pezamania sees more Europeans than any other festival on the planet. Consequently, the rarity of the items versus other conventions is huge. The unique, colorful, and friendly finds are quite valuable and can be worth as much as $3,000 depending on several variants. Anyone and everyone that has an interest to learn more, meet other Pezheads, experience the excitement, and grow their collection is welcome. The international crowd is made up of master collectors, dealers, experts, and authors, all of whom could be your lawyer, your dentist, your nurse, or your teacher. PEZ collectors do not discriminate!
Collecting is a culture club, an acclaimed hobby that’s admittedly addicting amongst the heavyweight collectors. Thousands of dollars later, those two dispensers have multiplied into a full-blown insured novelty, and the hunt for more of the worthy and unusual friendly characters is on! That wasn’t always the case…there is much more behind the plastic dispensers than meets the mouth.
In 1927, Edward Haas was an executive at an Austrian food company. He created a new peppermint candy for adult smokers. The word peppermint is PfeffErminZ in German. Haas took the first letter P, middle E, and the last letter Z, giving the breath mint the appellation PEZ. The dispensers resembled cigarette lighters, and were specifically designed to target adult smokers to reach for the similar looking candy dispenser instead of lighting a cigarette. However, the response from adults was not as big as big as Haas had expected, but the idea of repositioning it as a candy toy for children?
Haas voyaged across the Atlantic and by 1952 had opened an office in New York City. He incorporated his company as PEZ-Haas Inc., and in 1953 made the U.S. debut at Chicago’s candy industry convention. The first plant in the U.S.A. rose up in Orange, Connecticut, which is still where the “interactive candy” and other PEZ products are manufactured today.
Certainly there are children Pezheads that hold massive collections, but what was initially marketed to children back in the fifties has spread like wildfire to collectors of all ages. PEZ has spawned a multi-generational entourage, some that adorn their miniature statues with outstanding devotion. They may keep their collections sheltered on display in their homes, shielded by glass cases or guarded with a security system. Like any committed collector stockpiling the goods, Pezheads will travel great lengths both physically and emotionally, lusting for that one-of-a-kind find.
Right here in Cleveland, Ohio for the 17th year in a row (and counting) you’ll find the hottest ticket of all PEZ extravaganzas. Whether or not you’re a die-hard PEZ seeker or just cracking open the door as a PEZ peeker, it’s something to check out for yourself.
It’s Pezamania all the way-nia!
For more information about Pezamania, check out www.pezamania.com