Pez-azz



Photos by Becky Thurner-Braddock

The Pez dispenser is a pop-culture icon. First of all, “Pez” is one of those inherently funny words. And the dispensers are, let’s face it, a funny product. Is there an odder way to deliver a candy than by gripping a character’s head, tilting it back and having that candy eject from the character’s throat? Yum!

But the candy isn’t the highlight of the Pez experience. It’s clearly that clever, colorful, quirky and highly collectible dispenser. Dan Braddock, of Beechview, is one of those passionate Pez collectors.

When showing highlights from his collection of 500 Pez dispensers, Braddock concentrates on the sentimental centerpiece, the dispensers gifted to him when he was a kid: Daffy Duck, Tweety, Spiderman and Batman. “I come from a family of collectors, and we still go to flea markets together,” says Braddock, who works for KDKA-TV and WPCW-TV as a marketing manager and producer of “Hometown High-Q.”

While Braddock’s father, Paul, collects a more serious item—military dog tags—Pez dispensers “fit the offbeatness of my personality,” Braddock says. His collection includes superheroes, holiday characters (Santa Claus, Halloween witches and ghosts and the Easter bunny), Disney characters, Star Wars characters, even commercial icons from Lucky Charms cereal and Jack in the Box restaurants.

While collecting Pez dispensers is not unusual, Braddock is more than a casual collector. He’s attended Pez-collector conventions and is a student of Pez history. “Pez was invented in the late ’20s in Austria,” Braddock says, “and the first Pez candies were peppermint breath mints.” The word Pez, in fact, is derived from “pfefferminz,” the German word for peppermint. The dispensers we see in the U.S. today are manufactured in Orange, Conn.

Braddock shows the differences between some earlier Pez models, which do not have feet at the base, compared with the footed models introduced in the mid-’80s. He discusses some of the only Pez designed to look like real people (the family from the TV show “Orange County Choppers”), “test pieces” (some glow in the dark), “misfits” (a line of pieces in uncommon colors), box sets with likenesses of Elvis, “Star Trek” characters and characters from The Wizard of Oz.

Most of Braddock’s Pez picks come from flea markets, garage sales and stores such as Groovy on the South Side, and he estimates about 30 percent come from eBay.

How much value is in a Pez dispenser? Sometimes quite a lot. “It’s all based on rarity,” Braddock explains. “Some go for thousands of dollars. But you can usually get them very cheap because most people really don’t know the value of what they have.” Although he’s uncertain, he says his most expensive piece is worth “a couple hundred dollars.”

But Braddock collects for the fun of it. “I’m just a giant kid who loves plastic toys,” he says.

For more information, visit pez.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Five Essential May Events

Five Essential May Events

Comics (the kind on paper), comics (the kind with microphones), cats and more upcoming delights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

The Pittsburgh premiere of offbeat cartoon "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" is the local film event of the week.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments