• Benji Sills

PEZ Visitor Center

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

As connoisseurs of the weekend getaway, Paige and I decided on a three day trip to one of her favorites: Mystic, Connecticut. Along the way we passed through an assortment of delightfully odd attractions, including the PEZ Visitor Center. After our summer visit to Orlando’s Tupperware Confidence Center, a bizarre indoctrination on the life-changing effects of the plastic container which was hidden in the back of a mundane corporate building, we were not sure what to expect from the PEZ Center.

As we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by the facade of the building. An otherwise ordinary factory complex, it stands out with three massive statues of PEZ candy hung on the side (the middle of which was notably and confusingly dirtier than the other two). We went into the lobby of the building, a cheerful atrium brightly decorated with hundreds of PEZ dispensers on the wall. Along another wall ran a glass window fronting a ticket counter (offering the sort of protective case you would expect in a bank and not a less criminally lucrative enterprise like a candy factory). The only stealing here turned out to be the admission: a five dollar ticket which includes well over five dollars worth of PEZ merchandise in the price. With the entry comes a two dollar credit for the gift shop (enough for a dispenser of your choice), a souvenir lanyard, a handful of candy and the opportunity to get another dispenser if you complete a scavenger hunt. Already struggling to balance our tower of merch, we began to explore.

Immediately inside the museum we were greeted by the World’s Tallest PEZ Dispenser, a 14-foot animatronic that dispenses what appears to be a paving stone at the press of a button. Stretching out behind the figure was the bulk of the museum - a combination of history and collection. The first floor had a walkthrough by decade, exploring the evolution of PEZ. A number of electronic consoles surrounded the historic section, each of which displayed an impossibly difficult PEZ quiz. Admittedly, the quiz may have been easier if we had spent any time reading the informative plaques, but there was a scavenger hunt to be completed and so the information could wait.

We were tasked with finding PEZ dispensers of the seven dwarves amongst the vast collection of characters throughout the museum (supposedly as an interactive feature for guests although possibly just because they had been lost). Each dwarf was accompanied by a letter and when written down on the card, it would spell out a phrase. When the phrase was complete, we were able to trade in our finished card to spin a wheel for a prize dispenser. The dwarves were impossible to find and we spent a vast chunk of time army crawling around display cases looking for any characters with big beards and floppy beanies.

We had managed to discover most of letters, spelling out “YOUW_N!” Of course this left us in the frustrating position of not being able to guess whether the correct answer was “You Win!” or “You Won!” We dejectedly continued to scour the exhibit, convinced that the final dwarf had been removed as a cruel prank. Eventually, we completed our card and were able to spin on a prize. I won a PEZ dispenser with the bust of a cheerful brown bear and Paige won what seemed to be an armadillo in space armor. I have since been informed by my friend Stacy, who I commend for her expansive and unreasonable knowledge of film, that these are both bears from Open Season and The Golden Compass respectively. I suppose my dreams of a space armadillo feature will have to wait.

Even without the added exploration provided by the scavenger hunt, the museum would have been deliriously good fun to explore. PEZ has signed with a dizzying array of properties and every major character that we could think of from the past century was present, ready to display the disappointing candy at a moment’s notice. A number of other PEZ artifacts were on display, including a PEZ-themed motorcycle and a cardboard cutout where you could make yourself into a dispenser. I thought it would be funny to use the back of my head instead of my face. It wasn’t funny, it was horrifying. It looked like I was going to unravel my hairdo and reveal Voldemort.

The final and undoubtedly most bizarre touch of the museum is the back corner where the wall becomes a series of glass windows that provide an uninterrupted view into the actual PEZ factory, the only plant in North America and one that produces just under 3 billion PEZ tablets annually. Here you can watch live as the workers do fascinating things like adjust their hairnets. When we had finished spying on the employees, we wandered through the gift shop to pick out a dispenser, included with our tickets. I picked out Piglet from Winnie the Pooh and Paige chose a bumblebee for apparently no other reason than to buzz irritatingly through the rest of the afternoon.

The PEZ Visitor Center is located at 35 Prindle Hill Rd, Orange, CT 06477. At the time of this writing it is open Monday-Saturday from 10AM-5PM and Sunday from 12PM-5PM.

Admission is $5, but this includes more PEZ merchandise than you could ever hope to use.

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