PEZ candy was invented in 1927 as a breath mint in Vienna, Austria by Eduard Haas III. The name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint – PfeffErminZ taking the P from the first letter, the E from the middle and the Z from the last. In 1935, a factory was built in Czechoslovakia to manufacture the candy on a larger scale. In 1948, the first PEZ dispensers were designed to resemble cigarette lighters encouraging people to quit smoking. To grow the market in the US, PEZ introduced fruity flavours and character dispensers and marketed them towards children. The first dispensers were Santa, a robot, and a space gun.
In 1993, Christie’s Auction House in New York featured PEZ in its first ever pop culture auction. Since 1950, over 1500 different Pez dispensers have been created. The highest verifiable sale of Pez dispenser was a private sale of a Mickey Mouse softhead at $7000 between an Austrian dealer and a California collector. Today, PEZ is sold in more than 80 countries. Over 3 billion PEZ Candies are consumed annually in the U.S.A. alone.