The Real Reason Pez Comes With A Dispenser

You may know PEZ as the tiny candy capsules in fun collectable dispensers showcasing your favorite characters from pop culture, fandoms, and history. You may even have childhood memories of the classic candy, pretending those little pieces were pills on the playground, popping them out of your favorite character's face. For most people, this is always how Pez has been — a candy and a collectors item.

But prior to the 1940s, the PEZ as we know it today was almost nonexistent. According to the PEZ website, "PEZ Candy was invented in Vienna, Austria by Eduard Haas III as an alternative to smoking." This all happened back in the 1920s, with the original PEZ candies sold in tins to help smokers who were trying to quit. So how did PEZ come to be what it is today? Was the product's change from tool to treat the sole reason dispensers were created?

The real reason the PEZ company soon adopted a dispenser had more to do with logistics than a strategic business move. To understand how the company evolved, we have to take a little trip through history to understand why a dispenser was even necessary.

PEZ adopted dispensers for sanitary purposes

PEZ candies spent over 20 years in tins and paper wrapping before the invention of the PEZ dispenser. According to Smithsonian Magazine, "the metal tins or paper rolls were meant to be carried in one's pocket," but Haas realized that customers wanted a way to grab a candy with one hand or a way to share with a friend without dirtying all the other pieces in the pack.

Prior to the dispensers, eating a PEZ candy would be somewhat like having one large wad of gum that you'd have to pick at every time you wanted something to chew. Well, maybe not exactly the same, but you get the idea. It just wasn't the most convenient or sanitary, but with such small pieces, individual wrapping didn't make sense. So, "Haas hired engineer Oscar Uxa to create a solution, and in 1949, the first PEZ dispensers were sold at the Vienna Trade Fair," Smithsonian explains.

PEZ's website explains that in the 1950s, PEZ started getting a little more creative with their dispensers. According to the company's website, the first innovative dispenser was called the space gun and the first licensed cartoon character to grace the top of one was Popeye. These changes were the catalyst for the collectors items we know today — they may have even inspired the creation of eBay.