Musings

Pfefferminz=PEZ, who knew?

Me. I learned a bit about PEZ this weekend, which then got me thinking about memorabilia.

For starters, because I know you are itching to know about this…PEZ was invented in 1927 and was named after it’s flavor, Pfefferminz…take the P, then the E in the middle, then the Z at the end and you get PEZ. Ta-dah! It was originally produced as a substitute for smoking. That’s even the reason for the crazy dispensers…they resemble cigarette lighters. It has since blossomed into one of America’s classic candies, with it’s large-character-headed dispensers. We all know it’s really more about the dispensers than the candy anyway. If there were no dispensers, we’d have no cool vintage memorabilia. After all, no one is going to save a petrified mini-brick of somewhat oddly-flavored candy. I want the Yoda or Casper the Ghost dispenser that can now fetch a good haul on Ebay, original packaging intact, of course.

What is it that makes us save some things and toss others? As someone who purges her home pretty regularly, but still has a few large tupperware bins of “mementos”, what draws the line between the tossed and the saved, because I know I still have some things up there that probably could fall into either category. And better yet, what would make us save something like a silly candy dispenser? How did those folks know to save stuff in the original wrappers? Did they buy them and just forget to eat them (NO)? They are Hoarder/Fortune Tellers, is all I can figure. Do we have some equivalent out there now of some of the old candies? Maybe Altoids, especially the ones in the super-small, super-cute tins? Will they be valuable someday? Maybe I should get a box (or a case), leave the wrappers on and it will become a confectionary time capsule…that will hopefully pay for a book or two of my great-granddaughter’s college textbooks (will we have textbooks then?).

When you see several display cases of old-and I mean OLD-candy advertisements, wrappers, tins and even vending machines, you have to wonder where in the heck were all these things before someone assembled the collection. Where they up in attics, in old toy boxes, covered with dust and long-forgotten? Were they pointedly saved because someone just liked the look of them and then, low-and-behold, they became valuable? Were they hunted down or stumbled on accidentally? In a barn? In a box under a bed? Lost behind a sofa for 50 years?

I can still see some of the old toys up in my grandparents attic. They had the best attic for rummaging around in, too. Grandkids could spend hours up there and we did (except for the long narrow part of the attic at the very back…too spooky and dark for me)! There were hanging clothing bags containing beautiful dresses and hatboxes from the wonderful era of hat-wearing, there was old furniture, shoeboxes filled with surprises such as photos or letters….and toys. Old, beloved stuffed animals, a dollhouse, old boardgames, heavy old kid’s banks, old ice skates. It was vintage-heaven. Some things were saved, some were not. How does one decide?

Sentimentality, I guess. That doesn’t really answer the PEZ dispenser question because I can hardly imagine those landing in the sentimental column. But who knows…that’s the mystery. Every vintage piece…whether it be a hat, a letter, a book or a toy…they all come with a story. Someone knows that story but the chances are slimmer that the story is somehow known all those years later. Still, though, you know that it’s there, invisible as it may be. Making anything vintage all the more intriguing. It’s up to us to figure out which stories to keep moving through time.

Dang. I wish I had saved my Casper PEZ dispenser (it would never have the wrapper still on it, though)….but I have my dollhouse, all the pieces intact. One of these days, I’ll have to share it’s stories with my kiddos so it can become a time-traveler, too.

What did you save? Or wish you had saved?

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