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Collecting PEZ Dispensers

Updated on October 6, 2013

The name PEZ is from the German "pfefferminz" aka "peppermint"

PEZ was originally a German mint made for adults in the 1930s.  Reinvented with colorful character heads atop candy dispensers in the 1950s they were reflavored and marketed to kids, going on to become one of the strangest and most collected pop culture obsessions of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The fanciful collection you see in the photo on the left here was found in a cafe in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle. It belongs to the cafe owner. What is really interesting is not just the diversity of the collection, but the special rack that holds them all.

My PEZ Collection

According to my latest count, my PEZ collection has now topped 300 pieces. I see one here, two or three there, and suddenly there are three or four dozen that don't have entries in my records. Friends are given PEZ as gifts, and they pass them along to me.

My own favorite collecting variation is to find things that aren't the conventional PEZ dispensers. I like to collect the non-dispenser candy toys, I guess you could say...

It went from shoe box to drawer to a bigger box and now my collection probably takes up the equivalent of three office storage boxes plus a bit more. At least they are a lightweight thing to collect. And move.

PEZ Research - Here are the main guides to PEZ dispensers

Having some PEZ history on hand along with a few references is always a good idea when it comes time for online shopping. Or maybe you've got a PEZ dispenser collection already and you're trying to figure out just what the heck you really have. In either case, if you're just getting started in PEZ collecting, you need to hit the books a bit to get up to speed.

ET PEZ dispenser
ET PEZ dispenser

PEZ Glossary

What's what in the world of PEZ

There are a lot of online resources for PEZ. If you're just getting started, it helps to know what all the arcane descriptions means.

* Characters - This is the name given to the dispensers themselves. It refers to the different characters depicted.

* Head - The part of the PEZ that tips back. It is variations of this part that matter the most to collectors.

* Stem - This is the name given to the main body of the PEZ dispenser. The cander resides inside this chamber in a loaded dispenser. Most often these vary in color and have the IMC (injection mold coding) on them.

* Feet - NF or WF? That is the question. No Feet is much more desirable than With Feet, as it means the PEZ dispenser is pre-1978.

* MIB, MIP, MOC - Mint In Bag, Mint In Package, and Mint On Card are more valuable than "Loose."

* Bodies - In Europe, they make plastic body parts for PEZ dispensers, that assemble and fit around the stem to give a torso and arms to the character. There are a variety of character bodies.

* Misfits - These are PEZ dispensers with errors in manufacturing. They might have molding errors and be one-off misfits, or they might be whole production runs made with strange color combinations. PEZ sells many of the larger runs of misfits on their web site just for collectors.

* Fantasy - These are unofficial PEZ dispensers made by fans depicting characters that don't actually exist as real PEZ dispensers. The KISS band dispensers are some of the most elaborate and most common fantasy dispensers.

Hunting the Wild PEZ - The latest PEZ trades from eBay

Did you know eBay wouldn't exist if it wasn't for PEZ? The story goes that the humble beginnings of the biggest internet auction site in the world was a guy just trying to help his girlfriend sell and swap PEZ dispensers.

As it turns out, the wife of the guy who founded eBay does like PEZ dispensers, but the rest turns out to be just a clever marketing gimmick that continues to be perpetuated by PEZ fans everywhere.

The highest price paid for a single PEZ dispenser sold on eBay is over $1,200 US so remember, expensive is all a point of perspective.

PEZ Misfits

"Misfits" are strange color production runs or heads with some sort of mistake to how they were made. Sometimes the larger runs are sold direct from the company themselves to collectors and other times they are singular errs found and traded by fans.

Fantasy PEZ - the homemade, handmade specialties

A "fantasy" PEZ dispenser is one that isn't made by the PEZ company, and is assembled by fans. For example, Wonder Woman characters have been handpainted by fans for years to become PEZ dispensers for the band KISS.

PEZ Home Movies

How Big Is Your PEZ Collection?

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    • debate76ster profile image

      debate76ster 5 years ago

      I currently have over 125 dispensers.