Friday, August 17, 2007

P is for PEZhead

My Army

Wow, look at all of them! That's not even making a dent in all of the dispensers I have. Jealous? Admit it.

I don't even remember when I started collecting PEZ. Maybe eighth grade, maybe freshman year in high school. I don't even really know what made me start collecting. Perhaps the reemergence of a few dispensers from my youth (a Garfield Nermal & a Smurf, minus an ear that I must have chewed off as a wee one). I do remember that my best friend, at the time, and I started collecting at the same time. Her collection grew at an exponential rate, going to antique stores to get old one or to New Orleans to get European dispensers. My collection was limited to what I would find at Jewel. Always sneaking in one or two when grocery shopping with Mom, or what relatives found and gave me for my birthday and Christmas.

I'm not an anal collector. I don't keep things mint in the wrapper. I open every dispenser I recieve, unless I have a duplicate. What's the fun in having PEZ if it's not usable. And boy, would displaying 400 cello bags be a pain in the butt…not to mention UGLY. My uncle is that type of collector, stock piling multiples of every dispenser in cello bags and on cards in giant Rubbermaid containers. I'm not really sure why he collects PEZ, I think he probably saw how cool my collection was and started. It's nice at times though because he'll be on the lookout for me, but Mom and Lonny are also always on the look out for me. It's not uncommon to get a random phone call from one of them while they're in a store, asking if I have this or that.

For a time, I tried to use every dispenser I owned, but as I got over the 200 mark it became increasingly difficult, as the dispensers started to come in large spurts. There was a period of time in high school, junior year, I think where I carried a different dispenser everyday in the long skinny pocket of my carpenter pants. Definitely a fashion accessory.

I enjoy finding new dispensers, I always hit the candy aisle of any store we go in, hoping to find something I don't have. They're fun, they're cheap, and compact in comparison to other collections. Though when you reach the 400 mark, that's not that compact anymore. I've been moving around boxes and boxes of dispensers for a few years now. And in our most recent move, also moving around the perfect display cabinets that we never got around to hanging in our condo. I Can Not Wait to be able to display all of them!

There was a time in my late college years when I tried to catalog every piece I owned. I had a Word document listing every dispenser that came in (sadly this habit died around the time we moved into the condo) and I had started a pictorial inventory that was in book form, with grand schemes of giving copies to family who were intimidated to buy dispensers for me because they didn't know what I had. When we move into a permanent home, one of the first things I will do is photograph every dispenser and catalog them on Flickr, and then in time, create a book. I've even had layout sketches for a couple years.

Yes, I am that nerdy. :)

I cannot wait for the day when I can start seriously pursuing vintage dispensers. There have been so many neat dispensers over the years…80 years to be exact. But they get very pricey. I know I won't ever be in the market to get some of the really rare ones, but there's still a lot out there. Not to mention all the cool Japanese dispenser that aren't available in the US. If any in Japan wants to be my PEZ buddy, seriously let me know. I mean, you can get mini dispensers in the Japanese equivalent of gumball machines! I need to find an english speaking, japanese resident to become my pen pal.

I should probably go put all the dispensers away that I dragged out to take my photo. Do you understand the effort I go to for all of you? It's immense.

Happy PEZing everyone!

Oh, and I should probably say…I don't care for the candy.

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