From Page to Pez: Literary Characters that are also Candy
image via jayorama.com
June is National Candy Month, and sure you could read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or some other candy-coated book, maybe even indulge in a chick lit novel with Necco hearts on the cover—and while those are both fine, bookish ways to mark the holiday, why not step it up this year and eat your favorite literary character?
Pez has been making candy in Austria since 1927. Its famous dispensers have been around since 1948, with Santa and Mickey making their monumental debuts in the 1950s. But these days, if you can name that cartoon character, you can find its Pez dispenser—from Tom and Jerry to Batman to Mulan to Monsters, Inc.
Some of those lovable candy-popping heads started as books. So below we honor those that have gone from the page to the Pez.
Zorro, turned Pez in 1965
Among the first literary characters honored with a plastic head was none other than Zorro, the hero of Johnston McCulley’s pulp stories, which debuted in 1919 in the magazine All-Story Weekly. In 1920, the story was picked up by Grosset & Dunlap to tie in with the now famous film, The Mask of Zorro. McCulley went on to write sixty more Zorro stories over a forty-year career, and sadly died before seeing his character stuffed with bricks of candy.
Snow White, turned Pez in 1967
The German fairy tale created by the Brothers Grimm was first published in 1812 with Disney making the story iconic in its 1937 film. Over the decades, Disney and Pez have had an illustrious partnership with Snow White being one of its most valued candy collectibles—from its 1967 original, to the 2010 limited release. Head over to ebay and you can fetch an original Snow White Pez dispenser anywhere from $150 to $600.
Star Wars, turned Pez in 1997
I know, I know, Star Wars started as a film. Seriously, who doesn’t know that? But since then, those characters have been spun into hundreds of books—from adult novels, to young readers, to comics. There’s no denying that Luke and friends are indeed literary characters. As such, they were honored with plastic candy heads in the ‘90s and have been updated by Pez with new characters ever since.
Wizard of Oz, turned Pez in 2009
The beloved children’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslowhit hit shelves in 1900. It became a Broadway musical in 1902 and an iconic film in 1939, yet oddly it did not make it as a Pez Head until 2009. Maybe Wicked’s success gave it nudge?
Mr. Men & Little Miss Sunshine, turned Pez in 2011
I grew up with these British children’s books, released in the ‘70s, many of which currently sit on my daughter’s shelf. In fact, my mom still has my Little Miss Sunshine folder from elementary school holding her recipes. Now they’re Pez Heads, but the dispensers can only be found in Europe, so you’re going to have to delve into the world of collectibles if you want to add Mr. Tickle’s candy head to your shelf.
The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings, turned Pez in 2013 & 2011 respectively
Thank you Peter Jackson for bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic stories to a new generation. The Hobbit, first written in 1937, was followed up with massive sequels written in Britain during World War II. The movie mega-series hit theaters in 2001, and Pez picked it up about a decade later. On limited release, the Pez Heads feature the characters as depicted by Jackson. So pop open Frodo’s head, chew a candy brick, and settle in with a good book this June.