Sunday, January 3, 2010
PUTTING THE HEADS ON PEZ DISPENSERS
Today's New York Times has a delightfully informative obituary for Curtis Allina, the leading candidate for the distinguished historical achievement that helped makes Meg Whitman all she is today -- dreaming up the notion of putting character heads on Pez dispensers -- or at least, Allina was the one who made it happen. (The first two, in 1955, were Santa Claus and a character called Space Trooper.) The original Pez product was, according to the New York Times, meant for adults, and the container was designed to resemble a cigarette lighter, which makes sense, because the original Pez mints as conceived in 1927 by Eduard Haas III (the New York Times calls him "a Viennese food products mogul") were intended both as breath mints for smokers and as an alternative to smoking. (The name Pez is a slangy contraction of pfefferminz, the German word for peppermint.) I wrote quite a bit about Pez in True Confections, and I consider myself Pez-knowledgable, but I didn't know then what I know this morning, about the original packaging. RIP, Mr. Allina. You made your mark on civilization.