Do you remember getting that new Pez dispenser filled with sour candies when you were a kid? If you recall that special feeling, you can have it all over again when you take a trip down memory lane at the Pez Visitor Center.
The first Pez dispenser I remember is when I was about ten years old. I loved the Flintstones, and we were living out west in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was the perfect age for being a kid. I remember getting up every Saturday morning and watching all my favorite cartoons. I was obsessed with Wilma and Fred. When my mom bought me a Fred Flintstone Pez dispenser, it made me so happy.
In this article:
- The Pez Visitor Center
- A Short History of Pez
- Our Experience
- Activity Rating
- Visitor Information
- Where to Eat
- Things to Do Nearby
We were traveling around the Northeast a little because my mother’s family is from Connecticut and I can’t get enough of it. I love the small New England towns with their white chapels, hilly roads, beaches, and quirky museums.
We were staying in Groton for a few days because we love staying in military lodging and checking out the bases, and while we were there, we did a bit of New England-y stuff. We ate lobster, visited the Submarine Force Museum, took an obligatory boat ride around the lighthouses and mansions on the coast, as well as visited some of my old haunts from attending high school there. It was nostalgic and fun.
Jim and I are both kids at heart and when we found out about visiting the Pez Museum, it was a go. We weren’t sure what to expect, but whatever it was, our visit exceeded those expectations.
The Pez Visitor Center
A big blocky warehouse-looking building, the Pez Visitor Center’s true magic starts once you walk through the door.
We bought our tickets and found out that there was a scavenger hunt kids of all ages were welcome to do, and if you found everything you got a free gift. We decided to team up and do ours together. It was surprisingly difficult, but whole families were having fun finding the various Pez dispensers.
As you walk in, you are in Pez Dispenser overload. I never knew what a pop icon these dispensers were. The museum educates you on how Pez got its start, surprisingly it wasn’t American to begin with. It was Austrian. It didn’t come to the U.S. until the 1950s.
Short History of Pez
First called Pez Drops, they were invented by Austrian Eduard Haas III as an anti-smoking, luxury mint for adults in 1927 (source). For a few years, they were sold just like other mints in a small tin, but Haas soon discovered folks really wanted to be able to just reach in and quickly grab a mint without opening the tin and maybe dirtying the other candies, so he contracted with an engineer to come up with the first Pez dispenser, called a Regular (source). Genius!
Pez made its way to the US around 1952 and things took off. From making character dispensers to changing the taste of the candy from the original peppermint to a variety of fruity flavors, there was no turning back.
The first characters to adorn the Pez dispenser were Popeye and a Halloween witch, and from there, you can follow pop history throughout the decades, because intelligently there are Pez dispensers for all the popular characters of the times from the Flintstones to Paw Patrol. Collectors try to get one of every dispenser made, from presidents to sports figures.
Our Experience at the Pez Visitor Center
We didn’t really know what to expect at the Pez Visitor Center, and at first glance, you might think it’s just for kids. But that would be completely wrong. From the history wall to the assembly line, and all the exhibits in between, there is plenty to keep everyone engaged.
Of course, the scavenger hunt made it that much more fun as we searched for various Pez dispensers throughout the exhibits to get our prize, and then searching for the perfect dispensers to take home was fun too.
We loved everything about the Pez Visitor Center. It was both educational and fun. Walking through the exhibits was like taking a walk through our childhoods because we saw cartoon characters that we hadn’t thought about for years.
We spent a couple of hours there, looking for answers to our scavenger hunt, finding the perfect dispensers to take home, and gobbling up all the info displayed on the two floors. It is quirky and fun. Go!
Information for Your Trip to the Pez Visitor Center
Address: 35 Prindle Hill Rd, Orange, Connecticut
Directions: The Pez Visitor Center is just off of Interstate 95, take exit 41, Marsh Hill Rd., and follow it all the way there. Easy.
Opening Hours: 10:00-5:00 daily
Cost: Adults $5.00, and children aged 3-12 $4.00 (however each ticket comes with a $2.00 coupon to use in the store…so it’s pretty cheap.
Don’t forget to check their website for up-to-date information.
Where to Eat
Connecticut is known for its “apizza,” and the best one to eat at is only 10 minutes away called Jimmy’s Apizza. We eat there every time we’re in the state. It’s that good! While we were there last summer, lunch was a takeaway and the dining room opened in the evening. We just drove down the road to a pretty view and had our pizza there. Well, well worth it.
Also, if you like a good donut shop, head to Heavenly Donuts in Seymour. It’s run by a wonderful Greek family that is very friendly. I wanted a lemon-filled and they didn’t have any in the case, so what did she do? She went back into the kitchen and filled one just for me. Now, that’s service!
Things to Do Nearby
Connecticut is such a compact state that there is so much to do in a small area. If you go, here are some other places we love:
- Mystic Seaport
- Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton
- UConn Dairy Bar – a must-stop for excellent ice cream
- The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford
- Choose any of the gorgeous seaside towns and beaches to explore along the Connecticut coast. My favorite is Stonington!
If you enjoy quirky and fun places to go, don’t miss the Pez Visitor Center. It’s great for kids of all ages. We had a blast!
Author Bio – Corinne is an avid camper and traveler. She’s been to all 50 of the US states and has four more Canadian provinces to visit. However, she’s not stopping yet. There’s always more to see of this great continent! Corinne loves local foods, getting outdoors, landscape photography, and road trips.