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A Collector's Guide to Pez

a collection of toy candy dispensers

Have you ever had one of those “I wish I would have kept that” moments? While I was perusing my second favorite online selling platform (the EstateSales.NET Marketplace being the first, of course,) I came across a listing that made me look twice. Before I get into exactly what it was, let’s go back a few years to when I was just a little guy in a shopping cart.

Now, those who know me won’t be surprised to find out that one of my favorite things to do as a kid was to tag along with my mom to the grocery store. While she navigated the aisles, I had one thing on my mind...all of the goodies at the checkout. Most kids would have gone for the candy bars and suckers but I always had my eye on what I considered to be the best possible combination of toy and candy, Pez.

Much like most of the things I collected as a child, my PEZ dispensers have disappeared over the years. Between moving and being a kid that couldn’t keep up with anything to save his life, just a few rogue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hot Wheels are all that are left. Unfortunately, the Pez that I had from the 90s aren’t setting the bidding world on fire just yet, but there are a few out there that could bring in some serious cash if you were to stumble upon them at your next sale. Let’s take a look at some of them!

If you’re a returning reader, you know I can’t get to the good stuff without giving a little bit of history. The Pez story started in Vienna, Austrian in 1927 when Eduard Haas wanted to develop a tasty peppermint alternative to smoking. The candies were originally called Pez Drops when they were first released but would soon take on the familiar brick shape we all know and love. The candies were first packaged in rolls and then in small tins and it would be a few years before the world would be introduced to the first Pez “dispenser.”
Source: Snack History

Fun Fact: At one time, Pez offered a chlorophyll flavor. Talk about going green!

Here’s where things start to get interesting on the collecting and value front. The first Pez dispensers are called “regulars” and are among the more valuable pieces out there but aren’t the easiest to find. Released in 1948, the original Pez dispensers had an uncanny resemblance to a cigarette lighter. I found that pretty ironic since Pez was supposed to help people quit smoking. Early variants of the original design can go for over $2000.00 on the collector market, so don’t pass over these if you’re lucky enough to score one at a sale.

Another style of Pez dispensers that are highly sought after are what they call “soft heads.” These dispenser tops were made of a rubber-type material rather than the hard plastic and were released in several different characters over the years. A few examples of these valuable candy cartoons are a 1979 Captain Hook ($1000.00) and a 1979 Mickey Mouse ($7500.00.)

Since there have been so many dispensers released over the past 70 years, it can be a little daunting to know whether they’re old-school or not. If you’re not sure if you’ve stumbled across a vintage Pez, one of the things to look for are the feet. The two tabs that keep the dispenser upright weren’t developed until 1987 so if you’re Pez doesn’t have feet, chances are you’ve found confectionary gold.

I wouldn’t be doing my blog due diligence if I didn’t mention the holy grail of all Pez dispensers. To commemorate the 1982 World’s Fair, Pez debuted an unassuming astronaut dispenser that would eventually take the collecting world by storm. I have some good news and bad news about this candy filled spaceman. The good news is that one of these gems brought almost $32,000 at auction. The bad news is that there are thought to be only two in existence. You know the drill...keep your eyes open because who knows when you may find one of these dispensers out in the wild.
Source: Ranker

Adding “Pez” to your Treasure Tracker and checking the EstateSales.NET Marketplace frequently are the best ways to know when Pez show up at a sale near you.

Love all things estate sales? Us, too! Head over to our blog to learn about all things vintage, DIY, and more!

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