What are PEZ made out of?

PEZ candy dispensers and the candy bricks they hold have become iconic pop culture items loved by children and adults alike. The plastic dispensers frequently depict fun cartoon characters while the candy itself takes the shape of small, compressed fruit-flavored or minty bricks. But what exactly are the ingredients that make up these popular sweets?

The History of PEZ

PEZ was originally created in Vienna, Austria in 1927 by Eduard Haas III. The name “PEZ” comes from the German word for peppermint, “PfeffErminZ.” These early PEZ products were peppermint flavored compressed tablets marketed as an alternative to smoking. The dispensers were introduced in 1949, featuring the distinctive flip-top heads that could hold a stack of PEZ tablets. These original dispensers were shaped like a regular cigarette lighter, made to appeal to adult smokers.

In 1952, the first character PEZ dispenser was created, depicting a space gun. As the product became more focused on children over adults, PEZ began selling dispensers shaped like popular cartoon characters. In 1955, PEZ moved their headquarters to Connecticut in the United States. Today they sell over 80 million dispensers each year globally.

PEZ Candy Ingredients

There are two main components that make up PEZ products: the dispensers and the candy bricks. Let’s start by looking at what goes into the classic PEZ candies.


Like most candies, the base ingredient of PEZ bricks is sugar. Sugar performs several important functions in candy production. First, it provides the classic sweet taste people expect from treats. Sugar also helps shape the pressed tablet form of the bricks through a binding process. The sugar allows the other powdered ingredients to come together and harden into the small, dissolvable bricks.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is another key component of PEZ bricks. The corn syrup provides a thick, sticky liquid that binds together the other dry ingredients like sugar and flavor powders. Corn syrup allows the pressed candy to hold its shape before drying. It also contributes to the smooth, glossy sheen on the outside of the bricks.

Artificial Flavors and Colors

PEZ bricks come in vibrant colors from bright red to sunny yellow. These fun hues come from artificial food coloring agents. Common colors used include Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. The flavors are also artificially created, from cherry and orange to menthol. These artificial flavor and color agents are very concentrated, allowing the vibrant colors and flavors at relatively low concentrations.


Many PEZ bricks also contain common fillers and anti-caking agents. Fillers like cornstarch are used to add texture and bulk to the compressed candy. Anti-caking agents like tricalcium phosphate prevent the bricks from sticking together and crumbling. A small amount of wax may be included to aid in the crunchy bite of PEZ candy.

The PEZ Dispensers

While the candy bricks are relatively simple in ingredients, the iconic dispensers involve more complex plastic molding and processing. The dispensers are made from a specific type of plastic called low density polyethylene or LDPE. This material is durable but flexible enough to bend slightly and work the spring-loaded dispenser mechanism. Here are some key facts about the materials and production of the PEZ dispensers:

  • The dispenser head and body are injection molded from LDPE plastic pellets.
  • The hinge that connects the head is made from a polyethylene blend plastic for extra flexibility.
  • A stainless steel spring mechanism provides the flipping action and dispenser function.
  • Decorations like character faces are printed directly onto the plastic using industrial printers.
  • Plastic pellets come in large bags and are melted down before being injected into molds.
  • The dispensers are tested for quality control before final packaging.

Plastic Molding

Injection molding machines are used to create the iconic PEZ dispenser shapes. The process starts by feeding small plastic pellets into a heated barrel. As the LDPE pellets reach around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, they melt into a liquid state. The liquid plastic is then injected into high pressure molds in the shape of the dispenser body and head. The molds rapidly cool the plastic, allowing the dispensers to solidify into the final shapes.


After molding, the plain dispenser parts are decorated with printing. Digital printing technology allows the dispenser designs to have crisp, detailed imagery. Each color requires a different print run. The prints are highly durable to withstand repeated use by children. Print registration marks ensure the images align correctly between the head and body sections.


Once decorated, the dispenser parts are assembled by smaller machines or by hand. The spring mechanism is inserted into the body cavity. The flexible hinge is attached between the head and body. Any accessories like arms or hats are added to character dispensers. The dispensers are then quality tested before packaging.

PEZ Brick Wrappers

The candy bricks themselves are wrapped in small paper sleeves before being loaded into dispensers. There are a few key reasons PEZ bricks are individually wrapped:

  • The paper wrappers catch any powder or crumbs from the pressed bricks.
  • They prevent the bricks from sticking together during packaging and shipping.
  • The bright glossy wrappers enhance the candy appearance.
  • Wrappers allow space for additional brand logos, imagery, and nutrition facts.

Here are some details on the materials and printing process for PEZ brick wrappers:

  • Wrappers are made from food-grade coated paper.
  • Eye-catching graphics are printed using flexographic printing.
  • Varnish coating gives the wrappers a glossy, smooth finish.
  • Paper is sourced from sustainable forestry groups.
  • Digital proofing ensures print colors match brand guidelines.

Quality Control

PEZ undergoes rigorous quality control testing before the dispensers are filled and packaged. The testing evaluates:

  • Dispenser functionality – spring, hinge, and head motion are tested.
  • Print alignment and clarity – decorations are examined.
  • Candy flavor and texture – samples are tested for taste and texture.
  • Wrappers – checked for any creases, tears or print errors.
  • Package seal – filled dispensers are shaken and squeezed to check the seal.

Every batch of PEZ is also tested for compliance with food regulations for safety and labeling. The facility where PEZ is produced and packaged follows strict GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).

Nutrition Facts

Although PEZ bricks are essentially sugar candies, some nutrition facts still apply:

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Brick (1.1g)
Calories 4
Total Carbohydrates 1 g
Sugars 0.9 g

As you can see, there are 4 calories in each tiny PEZ brick, mostly from carbohydrates in the form of sugars. A single brick also contains 0.1g of tricalcium phosphate. They are fat-free and contain no protein or vitamins. The low calorie count makes them a fun, minimally-harmful treat.

Troubleshooting PEZ Problems

Like any mechanical gadget, PEZ dispensers can sometimes malfunction or become damaged. Here are some common PEZ problems and how to troubleshoot them:

Candy Not Dispensing

If candies are getting stuck inside the dispenser, first check if the dispenser head springs up fully. Pressed bricks can sometimes block the head from closing completely. Try manually loosening the head. Next inspect the spring – it may need to be adjusted so the dispenser flips open fully. Check for any obstructions and clean the inside of the dispenser body if needed.

Faded Colors

If the dispenser colors look faded, this is likely due to sun exposure. The plastic material can fade when left in sunlight for prolonged periods. Avoid leaving dispensers in direct sun when possible. Keeping them stored away from sources of UV light will help preserve the colors.

Cracked Hinge

The flexible hinge attaching the dispenser head is prone to cracking over time, especially with frequent use. If the hinge develops a visible crack, it’s best to stop using the dispenser to avoid the head breaking off completely. Using glue or tape on the hinge usually won’t properly fix it long-term.

Loose Head

Sometimes the dispenser head can pop completely off the hinge if it cracks or deteriorates. Try pressing the head back into place firmly. Use super glue or plastic epoxy to re-attach the head. This may reinforce the damaged hinge for a period of time. But extensive repairs can affect dispenser appearance.

Fun PEZ Facts

PEZ has become an iconic candy with a fascinating history and huge pop culture influence. Here are some interesting facts about PEZ:

  • Astronaut PEG dispensers were created to capitalize on the Apollo space missions in the 1960s.
  • The original dispensers from the 1920s-30s can sell for thousands of dollars to collectors.
  • Disney cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Snow White were some of the first licensed dispensers.
  • The name PEZ comes from the letters at the start of the German word “PfeffErminZ.”
  • Over 3 billion PEZ are consumed globally each year.
  • Rare or limited edition dispensers can fetch high prices from enthusiasts and collectors.
  • The bricks snap together in pairs before being broken apart to create the compressed brick shape.

PEZ has become ingrained in pop culture, referenced in movies like Toy Story and TV shows. The candy even had a museum dedicated to its history and collectibles which closed in 2020. It’s safe to say PEZ will continue to be a staple childhood candy for generations to come.


PEZ candy and dispensers have delighted kids and adults since the mid-1900s. The pressed candy bricks are created from simple ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors. The iconic dispensers start as LDPE plastic pellets before being precisely molded into fun shapes. Quality control ensures each piece meets PEZ’s standards before packaging. While PEZ starts with straightforward components, the enduring appeal of these candies comes from generations who have grown up flipping open that familiar dispenser head to reveal a smile-inducing sweet.

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