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.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

After his first taste of big-league ball, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow is ready for his close-up.
Edit Module

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

The course directs runners over taxiways usually reserved for incoming and departing planes.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Thyme and Place

A Thyme and Place

Old friends Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves reconnect via Facebook and collaborate on a historical cookbook.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

The local pubs that fly the Sharp Edge banner remain a favorite for top-notch beer and tantalizing grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

The Pirates did just enough in the days before the All-Star break to embrace the second half of the season with anticipation if not expectation.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

Reviews of "Ghostbusters" and "The Infiltrator," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Perfect Shot: Wedding Photographers’ Favorite Moments

The Perfect Shot: Wedding Photographers’ Favorite Moments

We asked these Pittsburgh wedding photographers to share some of their most-memorable photos — and the stories behind them.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

The new, larger location in Squirrel Hill features an expanded selection of handcrafted merchandise.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments