There's something very appealing about feeling like you're Charlie at Willy Wonka's factory, and this weekend we followed the kid in us to Pez Candy Factory. The Pez factory gives a history of the candy in American pop culture through the decades, and a brief history of the candy starting in 1927. The candy's name comes from the German word for peppermint, "pfefferminz" (Pez Visitor's Center Brochure 2016). The candy started as a breath mint as an alternative to smoking, originally made in Vienna, Austria(Pez Visitor's Center, 2016).
The original peppermint flavor mints, called "regulars", were marketed in tins. These were recently reintroduced to the line. Adam and I were able to buy peppermint, sugar-free Pez for our dispensers too, which was cool. The candy was introduced with toy heads in the US in the 1950s, following WWII. You can actually see some of the first toys that were introduced, including a "Space Gun" which was popular in the 1950's. You might also see a "Pez Lady" uniform from the 50's worn at many events and strange psychedelic Pez dispensers from the 1960's.
Kids Stuff (OK for adults too :) )
The Pez Visitor's center sponsors a cool scavenger hunt, and you guessed it you get a Pez dispenser as a prize if you complete the challenge. The girls really like this aspect of the tour, because they literally had to look through every display to find all 7 of Snow White's dwarfs. I saw adults doing this too, it's actually pretty fun.You can also stick your head in a Pez dispenser and take a photo, and also fill a bucket with Pez candy of your choice from dispensers for $5.99. The visitor's center is actually also the factory which you can see from glass windows, and it produces all the pez in the world. The cool thing about this is that you can find every flavor imaginable, including chocolate Pez.
At the visitor's center you'll learn some cool Pez trivia, and the nerd in you will go totally wild a this point. Like did you know Pez gave JFK a Donkey-head Pez? Yes, weird but true. You'll also see a special plated Star Wars set to commemorate the launch of the first Pez gift set; these were given to Lucas Film executives. In fact, the most valuable collectible sets have been the Star Wars collection sets (Wikipedia 2016). I couldn't resist picking up an R2D2 myself during my visit, it's a cool looking pez for my peppermint, sugar-free pez. You'll also see that Pez has an educational line of all the US presidents in history, so if you're a teacher that'd be one cool display for a history lesson.
The Drive Home From Pez
On the way back, we stopped by a cool coffee shop called "Last Drop". I'd highly recommend it, as they have a latte for every candy bar created, and you will be in the mood for candy after this tour. It is one of those cozy coffee shops with free books to read, pastries, good service, and lunch type food.
This tour was fun for all ages, to include our one year old, Emma. Here she is feeding daddy a Pez dispenser and holding her mickey themed Pez. She really loved those. I guess Mickey was one of the first Pez dispensers too, so she's starting her collection early, so she can attend the worldwide Pez conventions when she's my age. Now you can count how many times I said "Pez", if you guess correctly I will send you that R2D2 collectible in 20 years. :)