Sorry I made you suffer through Sandwiches last week, but this week my super amazing girlfriend and I went to a place! Specifically, we went to the PEZ Factory which is nearby us here in New Haven. We went because a little while ago when pandemic restrictions were slightly more restrictive and we were less able to travel, I had driven by it and thought it might be interesting to go. We just only got around to it, and there will be more adventures in the coming weeks, but still it was a pretty nice little visit.
The PEZ factory, in a way that makes absolute total sense, is very very into PEZ. When you enter you are immediately greeted with a wall of 700 or so PEZ dispensers, and there are so very many more to come. The place is not large and in some sense is more of a gift shop with some overzealous displays than anything else. This is not meant to undermine it! PEZ is a collectible commodity and they embrace this fact!
I think we learned a lot at the PEZ factory. Certainly stuff we never would have looked up on our own. For example, we learned that PEZ is Austrian and “PEZ” is an acronym for “mint candy” or somesuch! We learned the bestselling PEZ dispenser ever is Santa Claus! We also learned that the little things on the bottom of the PEZ dispensers that look like feet and help them stand up (like feet do) are referred to as “feet!”
The vast majority of the displays at the PEZ factory are various PEZ dispensers and other PEZ paraphernalia from throughout the ages (well past century or so, PEZ hasn’t been around all that long). One thing I found curious is that a lot of the displays (such as the one up top) mention how rare and hard to find they are. I don’t think I could ever be a PEZ collector. There is just about no way to even get close to collecting them all. There are limited edition Star Wars sets only given to Lucasfilm executives and PEZ executives! There are umpteen versions of like, Popeye from throughout the decades! Various ones only attainable from exclusive giveaways! There are a lot!
I was delighted to learn, however, that there is a subculture of PEZ lapel pin collectors. I collect lapel pins myself as my preferred souvenir when I go places (picked one up from the PEZ factory, don’t worry). Apparently there are enough PEZ collectors out there from around the world (they had a whole Japan display at the factory) that conventions come hard and fast, and to remember what conventions you’ve gone to as a PEZ collector the thing to do is to get a lapel pin. I want to see how deep we can make this rabbit hole go. Anyone want to have a convention for PEZ collector lapel pin collectors? We’ll issue souvenir spoons to keep the train going.
Inside the visitor’s center area you get a view into the factory floor itself, which is pretty neat. We visited on the weekend, so the factory wasn’t operating, and I can’t say I’m disappointed because that means employees get weekends off which is nice. They had a virtual tour thing you could navigate a la Google Streetview via a touchscreen, and a video showing you the candy production process. Industrial food production is always interesting.
On top of all this, the factory provided ample photo opportunities. On the left is my head on a PEZ dispenser, though now that I look at it, awfully phallic, ain’t it? On the right is a picture of me with the world’s largest PEZ dispenser. I was hoping for equally gigantic PEZ to pop out of it, but alas it appears to have been empty. Is it really a PEZ dispenser if it doesn’t dispense PEZ? Philosophers will have to battle it out for the ages.
Aaaaaand with that our visit was largely over. The place is not gigantic, but the entry fee is $5 and you get a $2 discount on anything in the place, and since the PEZ dispensers they sell are mostly $1.99, it’s really as though you get a free PEZ dispenser thrown in with the (self-guided) tour. Not a bad bargain! Besides all the dispensers, another remarkable thing is all the old candy they have. They have a whole bunch of decades-old candy just sitting in these display cases (one package from the 1930s, even), and it seems just fine. I guess then the major thing we learned is that when the apocalypse hits, the canned food might expire in a few years, but we’ll always have PEZ.