This Might Be The Largest PEZ Dispenser Collection In The World

PEZ dispensers are one of the most instantly recognizable, beloved, and straight-up fun pieces of nostalgia still being made today. They've been around long enough that families have been able to pass their PEZ love on over generations, stocking stuffings with them, swapping them, and, of course, enjoying the actual PEZ candy within them.

Another popular form of PEZ enthusiasm? Collecting. There are seemingly endless varieties of PEZ dispensers out there, from Disney characters to holiday creations. 

Eduard Haas III invented PEZ in Austria in the 1920s as an alternative to smoking. The candies were originally peppermint flavor. Smithsonian Magazine says PEZ debuted handy plastic dispensers for their product in the late 1940s, shaped like lighters, and in 1952, PEZ and its dispensers came to the United States. By 1957, PEZ had switched to fruity flavors, and the first dispenser with a three-dimensional character head on top hit the market. Over the next few years, the "Halloween Witch" and Popeye dispensers became classics. The characters didn't stop there: over the years, more than 1,400 different dispensers have been made, says Smithsonian. There are stand-outs, like the best-selling Santa Claus dispenser and the rarest, most expensive dispenser, an astronaut from 1982 that sold for $32,000. 

Until recently, there was one place where you could go and take a gander at the largest number of PEZ dispensers in the world: Burlingame, California.

The Museum of PEZ Memorabilia was a must-visit for any fan

The Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia once claimed the title of biggest PEZ dispenser collection. According to Roadside America, this California destination was a small storefront with two rooms absolutely crammed with PEZ models featuring over 550 different characters. It was run by Gary and Nancy Doss, who originally started displaying their PEZ hobby to give customers at their computer repair shop something to do while they waited. Before long, word spread and people were more interested in their collection than their computer fixes. 

The collection included the next rarest dispenser after the 1982 astronaut, a political donkey of which only three exist in the world. The Dosses also built themselves a seven-foot, ten-inch replica of the snowman character to lay claim to the "largest PEZ dispenser in the world." PEZ didn't like that too much, and built its own, even larger dispenser to display at the visitor center it opened at its Orange, Connecticut factory in 2011.

The museum was a huge attraction for fans, who call themselves PEZheads (via Snack History). However, it unfortunately struggled to stay open in the face of constant attempts at legal action from PEZ, writes Atlas Obscura. As of 2020, Roadside America reported that The Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia was closed but going to move elsewhere, but sadly there's still no sign of a reopening. Until and if that day ever comes, the actual PEZ headquarters has taken its place as the biggest dispenser collection.