Fast forward a decade to the coming-of-age tale Stand By Me. The character Vern is obsessed with cherry-flavored Pez. “If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That’s easy: Pez,” he says, sitting around a campfire. “Cherry-flavored Pez. No question about it.”
While the candy only made it to the U.S. in 1952, the first character shapes -- a full body Santa Claus, a full body robot, and a space gun -- were introduced in 1955 and were instant hits among children. And today, despite there being 1,500 different types of dispensers, Santa remains the most popular, so… looks like Vern was onto something. (We bet it’d blow his mind to know the Pez factory in Orange, Connecticut produces over 12 million tablets a day.)
And it goes beyond ’50s kids; anyone with a sweet tooth and an eye for kitschy collectibles could relate to obsessing over Pez dispensers. These candy dispensers, decoders, lollipops, whatever it was, provided an obsessive distraction for our characters (and for all of us at some point) from real world problems. A-bombs, World War II? Didn’t matter to Ralphie and Vern, they were strolling through their youth in a state of ignorant bliss, eyes laser-focused on the simple, food-based pleasures in life.