There are very few items from pop culture that remain as popular as they were when they first arrived on the scene. The things from my youth that I loved would be laughed at by kids today. The generation gap is increasing every day by leaps and bounds but I don’t feel it does our culture any good. Kids should be outside playing, riding their bikes to “the first tree”, and begging to stay out just a little bit longer. Those are the moments I cherish but it’s hard to picture in this day and age.
I remember the toys that were around when I was growing up most of which still bring a smile to my face. I love seeing a Jem doll or Teddy Ruxpin photo on Instagram. There is still nothing feared as much, by parents of young children receiving gifts, than of Play-doh which is of course why I like to be the cool aunt who is doing the gift giving. As pay back I once had to play with the Play-doh and my niece and nephew before it was six a.m. I feel us adults are even now.
Luckily I was made aware of a factory I could visit where I could see a childhood memento of mine in all its glory. It is in Orange, Connecticut where the Pez Factory still creates our favorite characters filled up their necks with treasures for us to delight in.
Ordinarily when I am in Connecticut it is to visit my best friend while we go sightseeing (see links below). I like it even better when we go to Rhode Island. The smallest state has left quite a large impression on my heart.
But the trip to the Pez Factory started with a neighbor telling me about the factory. I thought it could be a fun day trip with my aforementioned niece and nephew and their mom. The four of us set out super excited.
To break up the long car ride for the kids we stopped at Bishop Orchards to go pumpkin picking (this was back in October) and pick up some yummy apple treats. The kids and their mom got to climb up and down this enormous mountain made of hay and I got to sit there and soak in some sun, everybody won.
After lunch we were arrived at the Pez Factory. I was pumped to see what we would see. I had been secretly hoping to lay my hands on a Sheldon Cooper Pez. Spoiler Alert! They didn’t have one and I cannot think of a logical reason why. Maybe this blog will launch a petition to correct this offense.
The factory doubles as a museum of sorts. The factory is in the back surrounded by clear glass. You can see the tools of the trade. The assembly line is alive in that factory although because it was a Saturday we didn’t get to actually see the Pez being made. They are a strictly Monday to Friday operation.
Never you mind we put our tickets a.k.a. press pass around our necks and we were off exploring. It is really well laid out and much to my delight not that big. Like Goldilocks would say, it was just right.
As you walk in you see the entire history and evolution of Pez on its walls. It starts from the moment of conception in 1927 and proceeds to go through each decade to the present moment explaining what changes were being made and how it enhanced its product. The explanations were short, sweet, and colorful that they were able to capture the kid’s attention as well.
Throughout the center there are glass cases and cabinets filled with literarily every Pez ever made, including the special edition packages that held entire casts of movies like Harry Potter and television shows like The Muppets. My desire to bring home a piece of this place led me to pick up a Miss Piggy and bring her to the cashier.
I found the personal history behind the Pez invention fascinating. It was created in Vienna, Austria in the 1900s originally as something to satisfy those trying to stop smoking. It was only offered in one flavor, peppermint. At the factory they have every possible flavor or color you desire. I think the most popular were the chocolate ones.
Vienna has been on my travel bucket list for some time. I hope when I go they have the founder’s house preserved as a museum for me. It would be a nice full circle moment. Naturally I will have some dispensers in my purse.
According to their website:
“The name PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint... PfeffErminZ. Today, over 3 billion PEZ Candies are consumed annually in the U.S.A. alone.”
A few dozen were about to be consumed by the four of us.
My most favorite part was the step and repeat they had in the back. The top read “You’re not famous until they put your head on a Pez dispenser.” This is now my number one career ambition. For kicks I took my picture with my nephew there anyways. We are going to do big things. I happen to think I would make a marvelous Pez dispenser but I would like them to invent a coffee candy by then. I feel it is best to keep things as real as possible.
If you can’t find the Pez dispenser you are looking for then you have problems (obviously I was just too creative with my choices). They have every holiday, person famous or not, sports figure, and politician, you can think of. I was blow away with each new category I saw. We were totally screaming out what we found to each other as we walked around. The place wasn’t crowded at all and I am sure we sounded like nutcases, but excited nutcases.
Aside from the hole in my heart from the failure to see any of the Big Bang Theory characters I was equally disappointed to realize that the President caricatures were only sold as a boxed set. They had every President from Washington onward but came in sets of twenty-six. Even I don’t need that many Presidents staring back at me. For now Miss Piggy will do just fine (especially since I love the new Muppet show on ABC more than life itself).
It was after this very long day with an even longer drive home in our future that my BFF and I sat back, took a deep breathe, and were grateful for another day spent having fun and the very sleepy children we were traveling with.
Go online (http://www.pez.com/collectors/index.php?type=cat&ID=13) to see the Pez dispensers arranged by the year they were made. It is really something.
For a review besides mine, check out this video from my blog interns:
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