Dispensing Justice: Pez Sues Town Over Giant Pez Dispenser

300px-PEZ_Candy_PiecesIn Burlingame, California, citizens are fighting to protect their cherished town’s symbol: the giant Pez dispenser. Pez Candy Inc. is suing to force the town to tear down the super-sized Pez — which is recorded as the world’s largest in the Guiness Book of World Records. The company insists that it is dispensing huge servings of trademark infringement.

The town has been fighting with the company of years. While they built the Pez Museum, Pez lawyers popped up to object. The changed the name to Museum of Pez Memorabilia. However, the giant Pez dispenser pushed the company to seek legal action.

The almost eight-foot working Pez dispenser has a snowman’s head. Gary Doss insists that it is a work of art and that it is not for sale. He may have a point. Was Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can a trademark infringement?

Pez also has a valid gripe over the town’s selling dispensers bearing the slogans “Obama ’08 for Pezident” and “McCain for Pezident”. The company says that it has a policy to avoid its products from “bearing political messages of any kind.” Yet, Doss says that these were Pez dispensers that they bought and merely put stickers on them.

Perhaps the most impressive fact is that thousands of people are drawn to the Pez exhibits each year. There are Pez conventions held around the world — at least six major such events that appear designed to make Trekkies look cool by comparison.

There is even a black market for counterfeit Pez dispensers, which can be sold for thousands of dollars. There is even a Pez Field Guide and Pez Collector’s Guide.

While the townspeople are objecting to the actions of the “Switzerland company,” Pez is actually produced by an Austrian company. The candies were the 1927 invention of a confectioner named Eduard Haas III in Vienna. The first PEZ mint dispensers, known as “regulars,” were similar in shape to a cigarette lighter, and dispensed an adult breath mint marketed as an alternative to smoking. The dispenser was invented by Oscar Uxa. The company’s website explains that Pez is the combination of the first, middle, and last letter of the German word PFEFFERMINZ (=peppermint).”

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10 thoughts on “Dispensing Justice: Pez Sues Town Over Giant Pez Dispenser”

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  2. Carrie Fisher: You’re not really famous until your head is on a Pez dispenser.

  3. Buddha,

    That’s quite a tort! It’ll only be resolved in the LHC!!

    Mike S.,

    I was thinking the same thing. Are they nuts? People bowing down around a graven image of your product? It would cost some serious Pezanu to pay for that kind of marketing.

  4. Were I the CEO of PEZ I would immediately fire my entire PR Department and Legal Department, in addition to any Vice Presidents who thought up this suit. Why would anyone selling an inane product like PEZ not want free, positive publicity. The legal issue be damned, where is the intelligence in this company’s endeavor. We knew from childhood that the candy is awful in taste and texture anyway, so why waste the opportunity for honest, if misguided, lionization?

  5. Jill,

    I might agree with that analysis if the Monoliths were directly dispensing smarter monkeys. And I only say smarter monkeys because at the time of the original Monolith appearance, refined sugar wasn’t locally available. I’m pretty sure you need that to make Pez. Yeah yeah yeah you can argue the Monolith was dispensing an energy wave, but there are practical reasons we still discuss matter and energy as separate even in the post-Einstein world. It might be different if Pez offered charmed or photon flavor candies. No, Kubrick was guilty of listening to Arthur Clarke who was ripping off the Greeks. Greece may have a case against Pez, the studio and the estates of Clarke and Kubrick though if they can assert an interest in the golden ratio via the works of Plato, Euclid, et al. Modern scientists who have worked on the golden ratio, like physicist Roger Penrose, could all join the big merry civil suit too. But then again, when you try to restrict the laws of geometry with the laws of man, disaster often ensues. Oh the symmetry, er, um, humanity. Yeah, that’s it. Humanity.

  6. I think the real infringement. is Stanley Kubricks’. That was his Pez monoliths first.

  7. On the peep subject there’s a video on “the youtubes” of a guy eating peeps for charity. I don’t have the link but I believe you can find it by searching for “Vlogbrothers peeps”. It’s an interesting channel.

  8. AY,

    You forget that one group of indiscriminate eaters: the stoned. I once saw a very high young woman eat about 40 Peeps. And when I say young woman, I mean she could (and did) vote, drive, buy beer, and have sex with whomever struck her fancy and was of legal age. It was one of the more revolting things I saw in all of that year.

    Friends don’t let friends eat Peeps.

  9. So who eats PEZ’s anyway. It is kinda like Peeps, you know that they are out there but have you really ever seen anyone besides a child eat them?

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