March of the PEZ Dispencers

But the company has opened up its licensing channels in recent years. If you rush out to the supermarket now, you'll see four new PEZ dispensers in General Mills cereals — the Trix Rabbit; Lucky the Leprechaun from Lucky Charms; Sonny the Cuckoo Bird from Cocoa Puffs; and BuzzBee, the mascot for Honey Nut Cheerios.

And in a more bizarre move, there will soon be a PEZ perfume. A small Florida perfume company has signed a five-year deal to make and distribute PEZ brand perfumes and bath products.

"We're not looking at candy [scents] — at least not at this point," fragrance entrepreneur Frank Buttacavoli told last year. "We're looking at quality fragrances you'd be proud to wear."

Buttacavoli mixes fragrances for such as Perry Ellis and Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. Why the move? "Everybody knows the name PEZ," he said. Besides, his son is a collector.

But some aficionados fear the new PEZ products just don't measure up to the old ones. "The heads are larger, and not as well articulated," says Ronni Berger, a New Yorker who attended Pez-a-Mania. She cherishes a Little Orphan Annie and Snow White among the many dozens of dispensers in her collection — displayed on wooden racks in her apartment.

But that doesn't really deter Berger, who also collects refrigerator magnets and Coca-Cola memorabilia. "What can I say? PEZ is an American classic … You don't start out collecting anything. You get four, five, six dispensers, and they're just so aesthetically pleasing. I wouldn't think of letting them go."

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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