How PEZ Is Kind Of Responsible For The Invention Of eBay

In the world of comic books, every hero and villain has an origin story. It's the whole back narrative that explains how an everyday person developed their superhuman powers and skills, turning them into the characters we love and hate. As it turns out, in the world of tech and the Internet, websites have origin stories, too. It's the lore behind the search engines and websites we use everyday, usually without more than a second thought, showing us how they came to be — from the spark of an idea to the online destinations we scroll through absentmindedly for hours.

eBay, one of the original online marketplaces, which became particularly famous for its bidding auctions, has a specifically interesting backstory. Would you believe we have eBay in part thanks to PEZ? Yup, that's right. At least as far as the story goes. PEZ candy and those classic dispensers might be one of the main reasons eBay exists and, by extension, every subsequent selling platform created in its image.

If your first reaction is "how?" or "there's no way," keep reading to learn how PEZ supposedly played a role in the origin of one of the largest online marketplaces of our generation.

eBay's founder was a big PEZ collector

In a New York Times article from 2003, reporter Leah Nathans Spiro dug into the infamous candy brand by interviewing Scott McWhinnie, the candy's then-president, or "Pezident," as his employees called him, about the brand. Apparently, according to some PEZ lore, the founder of eBay, Pierre M. Omidyar, was a big PEZ collector. While it may be well-known in the tech and software world that Omidyar started eBay as a hobby, many might not know why.

According to the PEZ narrative, the story goes the Omidyar wanted to create a space for his then-fiancée, Pam Wesley, to buy and sell different PEZ dispensers on the internet so she could expand her collection. And so, he built her one — a romantic gesture if there ever was one. However, according to eBay, this story isn't true, but rather an infamous myth (per eBay). CNN Money confirmed the story was false, noting that one of eBay's first employees, Mary Lou Song, penned the tale herself. "Nobody wants to hear about a thirty-year-old genius who wanted to create a perfect market," Song explained to Adam Cohen for his book, "The Perfect Store: Inside eBay." "They want to hear that he did it for his fiancée."

Whether you choose to believe this as fact or fiction, there's no denying it's a tale worthy of telling.