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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

RIP Pez Man

I’m not an ambulance chaser, relisher of doom or much of an obituary reader but life is ebb and flow we all play a part in the circle of life. I read that Curtis Allina, 87 died. Who was this pivotal person in our lives?

A gentleman born in Prague, raised in Vienna and the only one of his family to survive several concentration camps. After the war he went to New York and worked in the food industry until…He joined the Pez-Hass US branch in 1953.

Are you having a gotcha moment? He was the man behind the Pez-Head! The candy itself was invented in 1927 by Eduard Haas III. Its name reflected the original flavor of mint (pfefferminz- a German word for peppermint) it was marketed to adults as an alternative to smoking. Originally it was sold in tins then later in thin dispensers made to mirror the shape of a lighter.

Allina persuaded Pez-Haas to market the candy to children with the flip top heads. The first 2 character dispensers were Santa Claus and Space Trooper. The rest is history with every conceivable head around. While I don’t remember the first 2 dispensers, Pez was part of growing up in the 50’s & 60’s. I never liked the candy but how could you refuse a flip top head spitting out a small rectangular sweet? There also was the challenge of filling them by pushing down the little spring to insert the candy. It was a true technical space age invention in those innocent years of Ike.

Thanks to this gentleman’s chutzpa and BOB (Burst Of Brilliance),there are Pez museums, international conferences, web sites, and a 2006 documentary-“PEZheads: The Movie”. May we all leave a small legacy to future generations!

A full obit can be found in NYT obituaries 1.5.10 Curtis Allina

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