Here's How PEZ Became Popular In The US

PEZ dispensers can be found in check-out aisles across America. They are so ubiquitous that it is sometimes hard to remember that they aren't American nor always popular in the country. Despite finding easy success in their native Austria, PEZ had to utterly transform into the product we know today to get a foothold in the United States. In other words, PEZ had to become American in order to succeed in America.

Babbletop explains that when PEZ finally came to the United States in the 1950s, the market was saturated with peppermint sweets and other oral hygiene foods. Being exclusively a peppermint candy that was supposed to help alleviate the craving for cigarettes, the newcomer initially floundered. So, they introduced all the fruit flavors we recognize today. Moreover, they expanded their target demographic from just adults to include children as well. So, the brand broke out of the tight mint market and into the broader candy industry.

Then they made the dispensers

The iconic PEZ dispensers, too, were a result of the need to evolve. As they were originally supposed to help smokers, Smithsonian Magazine writes, the original handy containers were designed to look like lighters. Again, it wasn't until the '50s that PEZ began to experiment with different dispensers, originally full body dispensers that opened at the head and then guns.

By 1957, however, PEZ settled onto the head and stick design for the dispenser. By 1961, as seen in a press release shared by The Atlantic, PEZ understood they could use the dispensers as novelties to highlight President John F. Kennedy's trip to Vienna. Taking advantage of the growing love for pop culture icons, cartoons, and television culture, PEZ managed to simply become something expected. Smithsonian Magazine notes that dispensers are still coming out with PEZ producing the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda heads to capitalize on the show. Moreover, it tapped some hidden fascination in humanity, forcing them to amass hordes of the stuff. Even Babbletop notes that the success that PEZ enjoys is due more to the collectors purchasing every single variant of dispenser than to people who want the candy. The image of PEZ that has become a backdrop of childhood memories was entirely constructed as a means to become popular in the U.S.