The candy man

Samantha Tosado

Freshman Chris Wolfe began collecting PEZ dispensers when he was 8 years old. He now owns more than 300 of the plastic treasures.

Freshman Chris Wolfe’s residence hall room showcases his PEZ dispenser collection. Photos courtesy of Chris Wolfe

Credit: Ron Soltys

These small, flavored candies cost about $1 and show up in countless Easter baskets every year.

They are not Skittles. They are not Mentos.

They are PEZ.

For Chris Wolfe, freshman fashion merchandising major, it’s all about the PEZ.

Wolfe has been collecting PEZ dispensers since he was 8 years old. His uncle got him started with the odd collection.

“My uncle collects them. He started giving them to me as presents,” Wolfe said. “I have over 300 of them.”

Every year, the Medina County Fair holds a contest for children 12 and under that showcases local collections. Wolfe, 9 years old at the time, decided to enter.

“I could only pick three PEZ dispensers and here I was — so little — carrying 50 grand stands worth of PEZ,” he joked.

For Wolfe, this was a hard decision to make, but he ended up winning first place anyway.

“I won first place three years in a row,” he said.

Although Wolfe has more than 300 dispensers, he said his favorite ones include the rare collector items people have thrown away over the years. He also enjoys the glow in the dark ones.

“I paid $100 for a Cockatoo bird dispenser,” Wolfe said.

Even though Wolfe has been collecting for almost 10 years, he admitted he hasn’t been collecting as much lately.

“I dwindled down since high school,” he said. “But I always go to the PEZ convention with my uncle.”

A PEZ convention is held every summer in Independence. It is the largest in the world.

Despite having a bizarre hobby, Wolfe is proud of his collection. He said he wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

“All my friends know about it. I always bring it up when people ask me something

random about myself,” he said. “I think it’s kind of obscure.”

Katie Wolf, freshman fashion merchandising major, finds it impressive.

“Pretty much when Chris originally told me about his collection, I didn’t think too much of it,” Wolf said. “I walked in to his room and saw all the PEZ lining the walls and even more in boxes and I was like, ‘Holy cow. This is really cool!'”

She said Wolfe has some neat cartoon dispensers — even some from Germany.

“I’d never really thought much about PEZ dispensers until I saw the big collection and learned they even have PEZ conventions for those crazy freaks like Chris,” she said.

The History of PEZ

Wolfe explained that PEZ dispensers are not only candy. There is history behind them that lurched him in to the PEZ collection extravaganza.

– “The word ‘PEZ’ comes from the German word peppermint, which is phefferminz. You take the first, middle, and last letters of the German word – Phefferminz, put them together and you get PEZ,” he said.

– Wolfe said PEZ dispensers used to look like lighters. People used to use them as lighters, so instead of lighting a smoke, they would take a mint instead, which allowed smokers to quit more easily.

Contact features reporter Samantha Tosado at [email protected].