Pez is the brand name of an Austrian peppermint and associated mechanical pocket dispensers. The dispenser was first trademarked in 1952. Pez was first marketed as a compressed peppermint sweet in Vienna, Austria in 1927 by Eduard Haas III. The name PEZ is an abbreviation of PfeffErminZ (German for peppermint). Haas created the peppermints using family owned baking powders, and decided to serve the mints in small, hand-size containers. He manufactured a small tin to hold the mints, similar to the modern Altoids tins. 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.
In 1952, Eduard Haas introduced his product to the United States, and in 1955, the Pez company placed heads on the dispensers and marketed them for children. Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse were among the first character dispensers. Since 1950, over 1500 Pez dispensers, including the original character dispensers, have been created.
The high prices which some Pez items fetch has led to the manufacturing of fake Pez items as well. The 2006 eBay sale of a clear 50's Space Gun for $11,000 took place, but according to Pez researcher David Welch, the dispenser was later proven by chemical testing to be a well-made fake. The most valuable Pez dispensers are three Political Donkeys, each valued at over $13,000, one of which was owned by JFK