When you get into PEZ-collecting you are presented with a lot of words and expressions to describe dispensers. I’ll try to explain what these words and expressions mean, and how they are used.
We’ll start with taking a look at how a dispenser is put together.
On the top of the dispensers are the heads. The head is modeled after known characters from TV, movies, cartoons or other recognizable characters. Inside the head there are several things that are important for how the dispenser functions.
- CANDY KICKER
The kicker/candy kicker/candy pusher is the small plastic tab on the back of the head of the dispenser. It’s this little tab that pushes the PEZ candy forward when the head of the dispenser is tilted back.
The “body” of the dispenser is called the stem. Stems come in every possible color. It’s on the stem we get the most important information about the dispenser we are looking at.
- IMC (Injection Mold Code)
The IMC number tells us which country the dispenser was made in. The IMC number is molded in the upper corner on one of the sides of the stem. Below you’ll see the different IMC numbers, and what countries they belong to.
- 1 – Austria or Hungary
- 2 – Austria or Hong Kong
- 3 – Austria or Hungary
- 4 – Austria
- 4(1) – Austria
- 4(2) – Austria
- 4(3) – Austria
- 4(4) – Austria
- 4(5) – Austria
- 4(6) – Austria
- 4(7) – Austria
- 4(8) – Austria
- 5 – Yugoslavia or Slovenia
- 6 – China or Hong Kong
- 7 – Austria, Hong Kong or Czechoslovakia
- 8 – Austria
- 9 – USA
- V – Jugoslavia
IMC numbers with two digits are called Dual-IMC. The first number identifies the country the dispenser is from, and the second number identifies the factory within that country. Dual-IMC’s were used in Austria when they had multiple factories in that country.
- PATENT NUMBER
The patent number is molded on the bottom part of the stem. The patent number tells us which time period the dispenser was produced. Below is a list of the different patent numbers, and what time period they were used. The patent number was changed every time there was considerable changes to the dispenser, and every time the patent had to be renewed.
- BOX patent – Pre 1950 – Was used on some of the very earliest dispensers.
- DBP 818.829 – 1950’s – (Deutsche Bundes Patent. Dispensers made in Europe)
- U.S. Patent 2.620.061 – From 1952 until ca. 1968
- U.S. Patent 3.410.455 – From 1968 until ca. 1974
- U.S. Patent 3.845.882 – From 1974 until ca. 1976
- U.S. Patent 3.942.683 – From 1976 until ca. 1990
- U.S. Patent 4.966.305 – From 1990 until ca. 1999
- U.S. Patent 5.984.285 – From 1999 until ca. 2009
- U.S. Patent 7.523.841 – From 2009 – Current patentnumber
These patentnumbers are long and difficult to remember, so when referring to patent numbers, we only use the first two digits. 2.6, 3.4, 5.9 etc.
There are also dispensers from the mid 70’s to mid 80’s that don’t have a patent number molded on the stem. These came in the transition between non-footed and footed dispensers, at the same time as the 3.9 patent number was in use. For that reason, these dispensers are often referred to as “3.9 – No patent” dispensers.
Below the patent number there is also the text MADE IN xxxx, for the current country of origin. This kind of label of origin was initially started to satisfy american import regulations.
Feet on PEZ-dispensers can very. The earliest types of dispensers did not have feet like they do today. Around 1987, the dispensers started having feet put onto the bottom of the stem to make them more stable. The first feet were thin, but they were easily broken. Dispensers from about 1990 have a ticker foot.
PEZ dispensers without feet are easy to identify as older than dispensers with feet. That is how the term “vintage” came to be used in the hobby. If a dispenser is classified as vintage, it means that it was made before the end of the 1980’s, and does not have feet on the bottom of the stem.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. In the last decade or so, there have been made series of dispensers without feet. Like the valentines hearts. These are of a newer date, and are not considered as vintage dispensers.
The sleeve is the internal magazine of the dispenser that holds the PEZ candy. The sleeve slides up and down inside the stem.
- CANDY BUTTON
A candybutton is a small plastic part that is located within the sleeve. It is the small shelf that the PEZ candy rests on when loaded into the dispenser. This candybutton has multiple functions. It works as a holder for the metal spring that is placed beneath it in the sleeve and keeps it from falling out. The candybutton is also attached to a groove inside the back wall of the sleeve. So it is the candybutton that holds the entire internal mechanism of the dispenser together.
This is the internal metal spring inside the sleeve. It’s this spring that ensures that the candybutton is always pushed into the upper position. This is what makes it possible to always push out a piece of candy when you tilt the head. Regardless of how many pieces are left inside the sleeve.