Located rather obscurely in a strip shopping center near the Caltrain station in Burlingame, California, the Pez Museum (or, more officially, the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia) displays 550 unique Pez dispensers in two appropriately small rooms, along with Pez vending machines, Pez posters, and other Pez-related products, including posters and T-shirts associated with the Less Than Jake Pez-themed album. The museum was founded by Gary Doss in 1995.
Pez was invented by Austrian candy magnate Eduard Haas in 1927 as a means to quit smoking. The original candy–available only in peppermint–came in tins. The first Pez dispenser appeared in 1950, and two years later the rather drab dispenser was decorated with a Popeye head,
Draco Malfoy’s boyfriend (left) and the original tins in which the candy was merchandised (right).
The Johnny Depp Pez dispenser is exhibited in its own rudimentary diorama.
and thereafter came an avalanche of character-themed dispensers. The Museum features a snowman Pez dispenser that the Guinness Book has recognized as the largest in the world.
But all is not rosy in Pez-Land. The Pez Candy Company of Orange, CT, is currently suing Gary Doss for copyright infringement, so the wonderful museum (admission $3) may someday soon go the way of the Pez gun and the Indian chief Pez dispenser, unless you contact the company and complain. The museum is to be found just south of San Francisco at 214 California Drive, Burlingame, CA, 605-347-2301
Founder Gary Doss explains, gesturing at an early Austrian Pez poster, “The name Pez is an anagram based on the German word for the original flavor, “Pfefferminz.”
The Pez gun–Can you guess why this product was taken off the market?
This Plexiglas display case hints at the breadth of Doss’ collection.
The politically incorrect Indian chief series hails from the early 1960s.
Japanese dispensers commemorated the bullet train.
The world’s largest Pez dispenser may have not actually ever dispensed Pez candy.
The psychedelic Pez dispenser must have been developed as a means of delivering a dose of LSD.
The museum may not look like much from the outside, but it’s packed with delicious Pez.