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Newcastle man enjoys indispensable collection

Newcastle resident Paul Davies is an adamant collector of PEZ containers. His home on Redbud Lane off to the west of Highway 76 is a testament to his admiration and enthusiasm for his hobby.

His wife Jana is also very supportive of his hobby and the nearly 2,000 PEZ collectibles he has accrued over the course of several years. The couple lives in a home which is half-house and half-airplane hangar, since they live on the small grass private airstrip that has several pilots living next to it.

But, it definitely isn’t planes that get the Davies couple sky high. It’s the enormous and admirable collection of PEZ collectible containers that Paul has derived through the last 20 or so years.

“I’m very supportive of him and his hobby,” Jana said. “I think it is wonderful that he enjoys collecting. It doesn’t matter where we go. We have to look for PEZ. Once he finds out about the newest ones, he has to go Wal Mart, Target, the local candy shops at the mall, or wherever. He’s bought a few online. He just really enjoys collecting PEZ and I’m proud of him.”

Paul and Jana have been married for eight years. Paul (57) works for OG&E in the billing department. As one could imagine, he has to put up with customers complaining about their bills or why they were charged so much for electricity in the past month.

So, when he comes home, Jana gives Paul all of the love he needs. And, his PEZ collection is also a soothing factor for him to come home to. He simply enjoys the heck out of collecting those 4-inch tall toys that have become an icon in American lore – even though they aren’t from the USA.

Eduard Haas III invented PEZ in 1927, in Vienna, Austria. The name of the candy originated from the German word for peppermint, which happens to be “pfeffermintz.” Haas took the ‘p,’ ‘e,’ and ‘z’ from the German word to get the candy’s name, PEZ. And after eight years, the company was doing so well that they had to build a factory in Czechoslovakia to increase production.

Then in 1948, Oscar Uxa revolutionized the PEZ experience - designing a PEZ dis-pens-e r that allowed one piece of candy to be dispensed at a time. This was a sanitary measure that prevented people from touching every piece of candy before choosing one.

However, it also doubled as an anti-smoking campaign. The push for people to eat PEZ instead of smoking a cigarette was a real one. In fact, early slogans for the candy boasted, “No smoking, PEZing Allowed” as Haas hoped his candy might lower smoking rates.

It wasn’t until 1952 that PEZ made their way to the United States. In that year, the first PEZ headquarters were established in the United States in New York City. Despite PEZ’s success in Europe, Curtis Allina, the first president of PEZ in the U.S., found the candy difficult to sell because of the strong peppermint flavor.

So, in an attempt to draw children to the brand, PEZ came up with the idea to create fruit-flavored versions and cute, character-themed dispensers.

The idea worked and, in no time, children and adults alike were in love with PEZ. The very first dispensers available were a full-body Santa, a robot, and a space gun. And since then, the character-themed dispensers took off.

“I was at a friend’s house about 20 years ago,” said Paul, “and he had some PEZ dispensers still in the packages. I asked him what he was going to do with them.

“He said they might be worth some mone y someday. I thought that was cool. The first one I bought was Wonder Woman. After I had about 15 of them, I figured I had a good collection going. So, I kept going.”

Davies has many themes and characters to his collection. He has trucks, superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, KISS, the Muppets, and Spongebob Squarepants.

Davies also has several Christmas-themed PEZ dispensers along with Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. He has many Disney-themed PEZ dispensers, too.

He loves his dinosaur PEZ dispensers; they’re a personal favorite. He also has custom-built a White House where he displays all of the president PEZ dispensers. He’s made a baseball stadium, a football field, and a race track for his MLB helmets, NFL helmets, and NASCAR collectibles.

Davies is pretty meticulous about his display of his PEZ collection. He has custom built the shelves for his PEZ buddies. He learned the hard way after a storm knocked his collection to the floor.

“I’m not a carpenter but I do the best I can,” Paul said. “It took a couple of tries to get the shelves just how I wanted them. I put the grooves in the bottom of the shelves to keep them from moving.

“That’s because I came in one time after the Oklahoma wind hit the back (west) wall and they were all on the floor. So, now I have them in grooves. It works out pretty good now.”

The past few years, the Davies (along with local resident Kelly Varner) have held a garage sale at the Davies’ resident. “Everybody gets to see the collection when they come to the garage sale,” Paul said. “Hopefully, it will get kids to start collecting them. It’s a good hobby.”

Collecting PEZ dispensers is a relatively affordable venture. But, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. The 1982 World’s Fair PEZ dispenser is believed to be an extremely rare promotional item. In fact, only two are currently known to exist.

One features a blue stem and an astronaut with a matching blue helmet. The other, featuring a green stem and white helmet, was at one point advertised for sale at $100,000. Most recently, it resurfaced on Ebay in 2006 and sold for a whopping $32,205.

The Mickey Mouse Soft Head dispenser was a prototype and only one is thought to exist. With a red rectangular stem and a soft-plastic Mickey Mouse head, this candy dispenser was allegedly sold for $7,000. Needless to say, PEZ dispensers are a popular collectible among many.

“You can buy them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” Paul said.

“That might impress other

PEZ collectors but I’m more into quantity. The most I’ve ever spent on a PEZ is probably $20 and that was a rare thing for me to do.

“I like to spend a little money and have a lot rather than spend a lot of money and have a little. But, you can go on Ebay and find some that are in the hundreds of dollars. You can spend quite a bit if you want to and have the means to.”

After being in the hobby of collecting PEZ dispensers for several years, Paul has developed a sort of following. People that know him bring him dispensers all the time.

“Anybody who brings him a PEZ,” Jana said, “he will usually have it. But, he’ll tell them he doesn’t so that nobody gets their feelings hurt. He’s so nice. When kids come to the garage sale, there’s an extra box of them so that he can give the kids a PEZ. He really likes kids.”

Paul Davies is truly a remarkable person. He always gives his all toward anything he has a fondness for.

“When I do something, I don’t like to do anything half-baked,” he said. “I always go all out. I started collecting when I was about 40 and my biggest regret is that I didn’t collect them as a kid. The ones from the 60s and 70s are worth a lot of money now and they’re hard to find.

“But, I just really enjoy collecting them and it’s something fun to do. It really is and I’m glad to have the means to do this. It fills my heart with joy.”

The Newcastle Pacer

P.O. Box 429

120 NE 2nd, Suite 102 - Newcastle, Oklahoma 73065