The Original Reason PEZ Was Created

When you think back on some of the most memorable candies of your childhood, chances are PEZ candy fits into the list somewhere. Though the small rectangular candies might not have been your favorite in terms of taste, it likely was a top contender in terms of being entertaining. Unlike other candies, PEZ of course comes in the styles of your favorite characters, superheroes, holidays, and so much more. There's seemingly a PEZ dispenser for every occasion, even if you do stick with the basic candy flavors. What you might not know, however, is that the retro version of PEZ was far from a children's candy when it was first developed. 

For starters, the treat was never really considered a candy, it was originally a mint made in Vienna in 1927 by Eduard Haas III (via Secret Vienna). The peppermint-flavored mints were named PEZ after taking the first, middle, and last letters of the German word, pfefferminz, which translates to, you guessed it, "peppermint." While it later morphed into flavored candies, and Haas firstly developed it as a mint, PEZ wasn't initially created with the intention of serving as a breath freshener. It had a much different purpose.

PEZ candy was originally made to curb smoking habits

The small peppermint tablets were not made to mask smoke, but rather they were created with the intention of helping smokers quit, or at least curb, their smoking habit (via PEZ). Its original purpose is also likely behind the dispenser's design. But this design did not occur until later when Haas partnered with Oscar Uxa. Up until 1949, the mints were sold in tins small enough to fit in your pocket. That year, the first dispenser arrived at the Vienna Trade Fair, modeled after a cigarette lighter and similar in appearance to the contraption we know today, according to Secret Vienna

But PEZ states that it wasn't until 1957 that any sort of decorative character was added to the top of the dispenser. It was just before this time that the mints shifted to become different flavors of hard candy for children to enjoy, none the wiser to the candy's original purpose.