Unique New England Museums: The Pez Visitors Center

By Carla Charter

Many of us remember PEZ candies from when we were children.  Even more we may remember the candy’s containers which often had the head of one our favorite television or movie characters. Visitors can be reminded of this sweet part of their childhood when they visit the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange, Connecticut.

PEZ candies were first made in Vienna, Austria in 1927 by Eduard Hass III. However, the Pez dispenser itself, was not patented until 1948. These dispensers were known as ‘regulars,’ with no character heads on top.

The character heads that many recognize today were added in the 1950’s, with organized collecting and conventions did not begin until the 1990’s. According to Shawn Peterson, Direct to Consumer Business Manager of PEZ Candy, Inc. the dispensers are so collectible because “They’re fun, cute and usually a character nearly everyone recognizes. They are relatable; a favorite character, sports team, occupation, etc. There is a dispenser for virtually everyone, the question becomes which one is your favorite?”

Some vintage dispensers can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars each. The most expensive he personally knows of was a single dispenser selling for $12,500 for a political donkey that was made in 1961 and never sold at retail. There are currently only three of these dispensers known in the world.

PEZ candy for the entire U.S. and Canadian market are made at the PEZ factory in Orange, Connecticut which is also the only PEZ visitors center in the world.  The visitors center houses the world’s largest PEZ dispenser, interactive PEZ themed games and visitors can watch the candy being packaged. The center also houses a PEZ themed chopper built by Orange County Choppers in 2006.

The Pez visitors center has the largest public collection of PEZ dispensers but according to there are much larger private collections in various parts of the world.  Although he said although there is no Guinness Book of World Record for the largest PEZ collection, there is a record for the largest sculpture made out of Pez containers a model of Big Ben at Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.