In honor of the 90th anniversary of the invention of PEZ candy, we made the trek from the Coastside over the mountain this week to check out the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia, home of the World’s Largest PEZ Dispenser. Any roadside attraction that requires no fewer than four hyperlinks in the opening sentence of a blog post must be worth the $3 to get inside. And it doesn’t disappoint!
The first PEZ candies were created in Austria in 1927 as a peppermint breath mint marketed to smokers. PEZ introduced the first dispensers in 1948. Shaped like cigarette lighters, they were designed to appeal to adults. Fruit flavors and kid-friendly dispensers shaped like Santa, a robot and a space gun were introduced in the 1950s to expand the market for the tiny rectangular candies. And dispenser designs just keep on coming.
Over the past 60 years, more than 1,000 unique plastic dispensers topped with the likenesses of iconic cartoon characters, animals, sports logos and even U.S. presidents have been created – and you can find many of them on display in Burlingame along with related memorabilia.
The price of admission includes a detailed tour of the one-room museum by owner, curator and avid PEZ memorabilia collector Gary Doss. In addition to expertly describing the exhibits and pointing out favorite collectables, Gary offers helpful tips such as how to keep your dispenser from snapping closed while refilling. (Sorry, you’ll have to visit Burlingame to find the answer. But it works!)
The same room also includes the Classic Toy Museum — Lincoln Logs, Easy Bake Oven, Mr. Potato Head, etc. – and the Banned Toy Museum. Among the banned toys you’ll find Clackers, which I recall being banned from my elementary school, and the Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with radioactive material. Really.
Gary’s tiny museum is fun and nostalgic and well worth $3 and 30 minutes. Don’t forget to browse the gift store for your favorite PEZ flavors and accessories.
BURLINGAME MUSEUM OF PEZ MEMORABILIA
- ADDRESS: 214 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010
- HOURS: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
- COST $3 for adults, $1 for seniors and children 4-12, free for children under 4. First Thursday of the month is free. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Avoid the meters by using free street parking just south of the museum on California Drive.
- PHONE: 650-347-2301