Welcome to this week’s Collector’s Corner. I am joined by Richard Belyski from PEZ Collector’s News. He has been collecting PEZ dispensers for 20 years and has even written a book on the subject. I thought he would be the perfect man to interview about PEZ collecting.
What got you starting collecting PEZ?
Back in the mid 1980’s I used to buy and sell antiques and collectibles at shows in the Northeast. I had sold so many cool things through the years, but really never “collected”. One day, someone told me I needed a hobby, I needed to collect something. That was in the late 80’s. So one day I was in a store, I happened to come across a PEZ dispenser, picked it up and it took over from there. Why did I choose PEZ? I have fond memories of PEZ as a child. I remember my Mother buying me PEZ! I even remember some of the characters and I hate to say it I remember trying to break them so Mom would get me more PEZ candy. Now if I only had them today….
I began to really search for PEZ. I put a display case out at my antique shows and started to buy and sell my extra PEZ to feed my obsession. It was around that time PEZ collecting started to boom. I used to subscribe to a 2 year old PEZ collecting newsletter and they were going to stop publication. So, in 1995 I started PEZ Collectors News and have been publishing it ever since. Now over 20 years! Through the newsletter I built a good relationship with the PEZ company, which there was none before that time. On one of my visits to the PEZ company, I happen to see a nice, brand new hotel right around the corner from the PEZ factory in Orange CT. I thought, wow that would be a great place to hold a PEZ convention. In 1999 we held the First Northeast PEZ Collectors Gathering around the corner from the PEZ Factory and we were mobbed that year. A couple years later, I started another convention in Myrtle Beach and also hosted a couple PEZ collector cruises and we are working on another cruise for 2017.
How many PEZ do you have in your collection?
This question I have been asked many times. Way back when it looked like I could count them all, I started to. One.. two.. three.. then before you know it I was saying hundred one.. hundred two… I gave up. It seems these cute, little fun collectibles multiply like rabbits. I keep running out of room for them all. I hate to say it I have resorted to storing some of it all in boxes and just displaying my vintage PEZ along with my newer purchases.
What is your favourite PEZ in your collection?
There is no easy answer to that question. I have a few favourite dispensers. One of the first that come to mind is the special Bride and Groom I made to use as our wedding cake topper. That one is special, I also made a couple stunt doubles in case something happened to the real set. As I said, you can never have enough PEZ….
Another one of my favorites is a Fat Ear Bunny. This one happened by chance. Again, as I was cleaning up the house I came across a box of PEZ I had stashed away a long time ago. It was filled with Fat Ear Bunnies. So I put them all out on display, thought how cool a whole bunch of them looked so I stared to look for more of them and put them on display.
Another dispenser that I happen to like is called Bubbleman. When I had my first interview with the PEZ President Scott McWhinnie in 1996, we were sitting there when he pulled out this dispenser out of his pocket. It was called Bubbleman. Bubbleman was a dispenser that was never released at that time and made its way out into the PEZ collecting hobby and sold for several thousand dollars. Imagine, this man pulling out this very rare and expensive dispenser out of his pocket, showing me and telling ME that they would be selling this dispenser to the collecting community in the near future. They did!
Is there one PEZ you really don’t like?
No, but there are some I could care less about. The good part about me writing a collecting newsletter I can use it as an excuse to buy every PEZ under the sun and collect it!
How do you store / show off your collection?
We have two offices in our house and there are shelves with “grandstand style” displays, display cases with PEZ, a vending machine (like the one I remember when Mom bought me PEZ as a kid) and even a 6′ tall Grasshopper PEZ that was used by PEZ at trade shows. There are PEZ dispensers everywhere in our house, except the bathroom. Hmm, now that gives me an idea!
Where do you get your Pez from?
I buy PEZ in my local stores, I’m always looking. I also buy on eBay and I even buy PEZ wholesale directly from PEZ. You can never get enough PEZ ya know……
What are some PEZ that are worth a lot of money?
There are several that are worth a lot of money. One that people might know is called Make a Face. He is like a Mr. Potato head dispenser. He has all of these small pieces that go in his head. Because of the small pieces he was pulled off the market and is hard to find complete. I was lucky enough to find one many years ago in my antique show days, one with a few pieces that I bought for a couple dollars. Another biggie is the Bride and a Pineapple dispenser. The last Pineapple I saw sell was in the area of $3,500.
What is your holy grail?
I would love to get a Pineapple or a Bride for my collection. Maybe someday when I win the lottery!
What do you do with all the sweets?
I’m actually one of the few collectors that will eat PEZ candy. There is nothing like eating fresh, hot PEZ candy right out of the machine at PEZ. Nothing like it. I like orange PEZ candy the best. Since I host the Northeast PEZ convention I buy lots of PEZ that I use as giveaways at the convention. Each PEZ dispenser come with two packs of candy. So if I open a a couple hundred dispensers double that number. So I stock pile it during the year and put it out on a table at the convention during our public show day. This year I guess there was at least 1,000-2,000 packs of PEZ candy I put on the table. At the end of the show, it was gone!
I would like to thank Rich for doing this interview with me. In the UK PEZ isn’t particularly popular, but it certainly seems to be a great hobby for many people in the US. This interview has opened my eyes to the world of PEZ collecting and I hope it has for you too. When I next see them in the shops I shall definitely grab myself one to just see what all the fuss is about.
The easiest way to get information about Rich, his collecting, his newsletters and collector guides, the Northeast PEZ Convention or the 2017 PEZ Collector Cruise is go to his web site at PezCollectorsNews.com and look on the link page for more information.
Rich also has a Facebook page and Twitter feed to keep up to date with the PEZ news and community.