Geek Trivia

Which Candy Was Originally Marketed As A Smoking Cessation Tool?

Life Savers
Tic Tacs
Red Vines
Map Makers Include What Device To Identify Their Maps In Lawsuits?

Answer: Pez

Pez dispensers are somewhat of a curiosity in the candy world. Candy typically comes wrapped or in a tin or container wherein you shake it out into your hand. Pez, on the other hand, comes in a little dispenser that you flick back and a little candy tablet is dispensed into your hand or mouth.

The original Pez candies were breath mints created by Austrian candy maker Eduard Haas III and came in a tin not unlike the metal tin Altoids breath mints come in. They were marketed with a therapeutic spin, as something to do instead of smoking. Early advertisements for the mints even featured a girl dressed like a cigarette sales girl to further reinforce the association between the mints and smoking.

The whole shape of the dispenser and the flick-back mechanism that dispenses the candy isn’t accidental in design. Although we now think of Pez as a children’s candy and the dispensers as comical and something collected by a devoted minority, the original design by Oscar Uxa was purposely created to provide a convenient, hygienic method to dispense single tablets using only one hand. The first Pez dispensers, known as regulars, were similar in shape to cigarette lighters of the day.

While the purpose behind the candy was a well intended effort, it never really caught on as a serious smoking cessation. After the end of World War II, however, the Haas Food Manufacturing company began marketing the Pez dispenser and the accompanying candies in the U.S. market where they found their true road to success: colorful dispensers and fruit flavors children found irresistible.

Image courtesy of the Haas Food Manufacturing company.