PEZ candy was created to help people quit smoking.
Source: Original photo by Peter Ekvall/ Alamy Stock Photo
Next Fact

PEZ candy was created to help people quit smoking.

Decades before doctors began to publicize the harmful effects of cigarettes, a 30-year-old Austrian executive decided to invent a refreshing alternative. In 1927, Eduard Haas III was managing his family’s baking goods business — the Ed. Haas Company — when he expanded the product line to include round, peppermint-flavored treats known as PEZ Drops. The German word for peppermint is pfefferminz, and Haas found the name for his new candies by combining the first, middle, and last letters of the German term. Clever advertising built national demand for the candy, which adopted its iconic brick shape in the 1930s and eventually nixed the “Drops.” PEZ were packaged in foil paper or metal tins until Haas hired engineer Oscar Uxa to devise a convenient way of extracting a tablet single-handedly. Uxa’s innovation — a plastic dispenser with a cap that tilted backward as springs pushed the candy forward — debuted at the 1949 Vienna Trade Fair. 

PEZ once sold flower-flavored candy.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fact
Bricks featuring the essence of blooms were unveiled in 1968. The candies came in at least three different "Psychedelic Flowers" dispensers, which each had a rose-shaped top and a ’60s-inspired message (including "Luv PEZ," "Mod PEZ," and "Go Go PEZ").

A U.S. patent for the dispenser was obtained in 1952, but Americans of the day showed little interest in giving up smoking. So PEZ replaced the mint pellets with fruity ones and targeted a new demographic: children. In 1957, after experimenting with pricey dispensers shaped like robots, Santa Claus, and space guns, PEZ released a Halloween dispenser that featured a three-dimensional witch’s head atop a rectangular case. A Popeye version was licensed in 1958, and since then PEZ has gone on to produce some 1,500 different novelty-topped dispensers. An Austrian original that was revolutionized in America, PEZ is now enjoyed in more than 80 countries — and it’s still owned by the Ed. Haas Company.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Pressure (in pounds) the raw ingredients in PEZ undergo to become tablets
3,000
PEZ dispensers used to create the world's largest PEZ dispenser sculpture, a replica of London's Big Ben
9,404
Price (in dollars) a Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set of PEZ dispensers earned in a 2018 charity auction
9,893
Minimum amount of individual PEZ candies eaten annually in the United States
3 billion
The all-time bestselling PEZ dispenser features _______.
The all-time bestselling PEZ dispenser features Santa Claus.
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Think Twice
Hollywood almost made an animated PEZ movie.

The Lego Movie exceeded all box office expectations by becoming the fourth-highest-grossing domestic film of 2014. Producers immediately started brainstorming about other nostalgia-inducing objects that could anchor an animated comedy. Envision Media Arts found a worthwhile property in PEZ, greenlighting a feature and hiring a screenwriter in 2015, yet no director or cast was ever announced. According to the Envision Media Arts website, PEZ remains in development (and it's now listed as a TV series). In the meantime, anyone seeking a big-screen PEZ tribute can revisit the 1986 classic Stand by Me. In the Rob Reiner-directed film, 12-year-old Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) contends, “If I could only have one food to eat for the rest of my life? That’s easy, PEZ. Cherry-flavor PEZ. No question about it.”

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