In 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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