Almost sixteen years ago, I met the woman who would become my wife. Four weeks after we met, on Friday, March 13th, 1998 (yeah, Friday the 13th...on purpose) we were married. Take that society! Still happily together lo this decade and a half later, we are a wonder to behold. The envy of all around us. The love to end all loves! Too much? Okay. But this is not the story of love at first sight or anything kanoodly as that. No, this is the story of the eight little plastic toys my wife came with, and what was built out of these little suckers.
The toys I speak of so fondly ("A Treat to Eat in a Puppet That's Neat") are eight little Pez dispensers. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, a Witch, a Valentine's Day Heart, a Pumpkin, the Easter Bunny, and the Tasmanian Devil, aka Taz. These are the eight Pez dispensers that, without any fanfare whatsoever, my lovely new wife brought into our marriage. A dowry of sorts? Perhaps. Perhaps indeed. Now, cut to fifteen and three quarters years later, and a silly off-kilter aside turns into a vast and all-encompassing obsession. From a corner of the dresser to a wall shelf to a cabinet to one side of the room to an entire room all of their own, the collection has grown and grown and grown. Have I mentioned that our collection (the missus calls it my collection these days, but I still consider it a team effort) has recently surpassed 2200 different dispensers, and approximately 300 other various sundry Pez-related items? No? Well, it has. 2244 to be exact. Yeah, that's right. Two thousand, two hundred, and forty four Pez dispensers. Take that!
The reason I bring this up, is because there was an article done recently about our Pez collection. Written by local writer Chris Mautner, the piece appeared last week on a local news site called Penn Live. There are even pictures to go along with then words.
Begun in Austria in the 1920's (Pez is short for pfefferminz, the German word for peppermint) as a stop-smoking mint and dispenser (the first dispensers looked like lighters - it would be another 25 years until character heads were added, and the Pez dispenser proper would be born), these dispensers are a huge collecting niche in today's world. The founder of eBay even claims that the online auction site was created to help his girlfriend buy and sell Pez dispensers (apocryphal, this story is merely a human interest twist that makes for good marketing). There are conventions held throughout the world (at least a dozen every year, ranging from Myrtle Beach to L.A. to St. Louis, Cleveland, even Sweden, Finland, Japan, and of course, Austria) and yes, the wife and I have been to several of them. There have even been a couple Pez museums, only one of which still exists though.
And as for what and how many Pez dispensers are out there? Tons, baby, tons! Probably well over 10,000 different dispensers and variations thereof (varying stem colours make for added fun in the world of the completist) have been produced over the years. Everything from Peter Pez, a clown who acts as the company's de facto mascot, to any number of animals and animated characters (most cartoons and animated movies have been covered) to a line of Pez Pals who can "dress" up as different characters (sheik, pirate, doctor, nurse, cop, fireman, pilot, maharajah, etc) to historical figures (Betsy Ross, Daniel Boone) to music stars (Elvis, Kiss) to pretty much anything else you can think of (including the US Presidents and The Lord of the Rings). And this doesn't even cover all the fantasy Pez that are created (I happen to have a Hunter S. Thompson AND Sadam Hussein AND H.R. Pufnstuf).
Seriously, there are a lot of Pez dispensers, as well as other Pezzy items like yo-yo's and snow globes and pins and buttons and tin signs and masks and puppets and flashlights and cups and blankets and hats and t-shirts and rulers and pens and pencils and toy cars and porcelain figurines and Christmas ornaments and so on and so on and so on. Howzabout Pez dispensers such as cowboys and Indians, Disney Princesses, trucks and trucks and more trucks (from Wegman's to CVS to Duane Reade and Bottom Dollar, the advertising rigs are kinda getting outta hand), baseball, football, and Hockey Pez, French Pez (that's right), and mini Japanese Pez (like most everything else in Japan, they are sold in vending machines), even those guys on Orange County Choppers! You name it, Pez makes it.
Anyway, that is my story, and I am sticking to it. It is all true though. Honest. But enough rambling on (I am as prone to ramble on as I am to interject parenthetical asides and digresses ad nauseam - ha!). I only came here to tell you about the article about me and my Pez (yeah, the little missus decided to hide in the other room while the interviewer and photog were here). And remember, if you ever come to visit us, don't be too taken aback by our Pez display (it isn't even all up and displayed!). Whenever a new guest is over, and they travel upstairs to the bathroom, they must first walk through the Pez room (the only way to get there!) and there is always a gasp of shock and awe. Take that! Below is a fun shot of a few of the famed Pez collection. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.