In my last post, I talked about my cousin Curt Allina, who lived across the street from Freud when he was a boy and who has been credited with putting the heads on the PEZ dispensers. It was subsequently pointed out to me that, in the context of that discussion, I mistakenly identified the following item as a packet of PEZ, the kind that is put into PEZ dispensers with (or without) heads:
Dispensing with the Dispensers
Wrong! If you look at the image more closely you will see that it is, in fact, a vending machine that dispenses packets of PEZ of the type that go into the PEZ dispensers with (or without) heads:
I love the idea that there were vending machines in Vienna devoted solely to PEZ. I discovered that there is one displayed at the Technische Museum Wien, one of the few Vienna museums I missed visiting.
According to the museum’s listing:
First introduced in 1927, [PEZ] were initially intended to support smokers during their withdrawal phase. This was the reason for the manufacturing company Haas offering a dispenser emulating a cigarette lighter. The name “PEZ” simply strings together the first, middle and last letters of the word “PfeffErminZ” (German for “peppermint”), which was the only flavour offered initially. The manufacturer only extended his product range once he discovered children to be a potential target group.
I subsequently discovered that this blurb garbles the chronology of events a bit. PEZ were indeed conceived of as deterrents to smoking–Haas’s original slogan was “smoking prohibited, pezzing allowed!”–but the cigarette lighter-shaped dispensers didn’t arrive for another two decades.
To backtrack even further, the founders of the company that produced the candy created another popular item: baking powder. According to the Haas company history:
It all started about 100 years ago when Austrian doctor Eduard Haas invented Haas baking powder – a pioneering invention in the nutrition area breaking old traditions. In the company’s history he is known as Eduard I. Eduard II later founded a general store and became a proud supplier to the royal court. His son, Eduard III, became a real factory owner. His instinct for practical aspects of life led the young man to production of Haas baking powder which was prescribed by his grandfather as a medicine. Eduard III started as an assistant in his father’s shop. The customers quickly realized that their cakes and pies are lighter, more creamy and better to bake with the young Haas’s baking powder.
It was Eduard III who also came up with the idea of PEZ.
Encyclopedia.com puts a slightly different spin on the Haas family history.
Eduard Haas I was a physician who seemed to have invented or at least pioneered baking powder, advocating it as a superior leavening that made pastries and cakes light enough even for patients suffering from stomach complaints. Haas’s baking powder was one of many of the doctor’s obsessions. Not all were so benign. He died suddenly as a result of medical experiments he performed on himself. His son, Eduard Haas II, had just begun his own medical career when his father died. Forced to support his family, the son left medicine and became a grocer, marketing his grandfather’s baking powder as well as pre-measured cake mixes. It was his son, Eduard Haas III, who propelled the baking powder business to greater heights, and along the way developed Pez….Eduard Haas III was described by contemporaries as a health fanatic.
I don’t know how accurate everything here is. The listing later notes, “In 1953 Eduard Haas III recruited an Austrian man of Czech heritage, Curt Allina, who had been raised in the United States, to head up an American marketing arm for Pez.” Curt Allina–my cousin–was not raised in the U.S.; he was born in Prague, but raised in Vienna, and fled to the U.S. after surviving several concentration camps (see visa picture next to the post title). But it is right about Haas being a health fanatic. He was not only anti-smoking. He was also a bit of a germophobe, and considered the PEZ tins, into which multiple fingers could be dipped, unhygienic.
But Did They Pass the PEZ After Sex?
Enter the PEZ dispenser, which not only prevented excessive candy handling but also helped with another aspect of the smoking habit: Having something to do with your hands. According to the official PEZ site, in 1948, Oscar Uxa designed the first PEZ dispenser that resembled a cigarette lighter.
This notion was questioned by PezCollectors.com, which noted:
It is often said that the Pez dispenser was designed to look like a cigarette lighter in hopes of providing smokers a substitute to this part of the smoking habit. The problem with this ‘story’ is that cigarette lighters of the time were not shaped like the Bic lighters of today. They were more typically square, lighter fluid filled rather than the longer thinner butane lighter of today. Perhaps today’s lighter should be considered to resemble the first Pez dispensers, rather than the other way around
Mr. PezCollector.com, it turns out, was wrong.
Oh, IMCO and Zippo!
At first, with the classic square Zippo lighters in mind, I thought he might have a point. But according to the official Zippo site:
The Zippo timeline begins in the early 1930s, at the Bradford Country Club in Bradford, Pennsylvania. [Zippo founder George G.] Blaisdell watched a friend awkwardly using a cumbersome Austrian-made lighter. The lighter worked well, even in the wind, due to the design of the chimney. But its appearance was utilitarian. Its use required two hands, and its thin metal surface dented easily.
“Austrian-made lighter,” you say?
And so I discovered IMCO.
According to Imcolighters.com:
IMCO is the second oldest operational lighter manufacturer in the world, second only to Ronson in the USA. In 1907 Vienna, Julius Meister founded the Austrian button and hardware factory Julius Meister & Co…. The factory initially mainly produced buttons for the military. After WW I, there was no longer a demand for these and so, from 1918 onwards, IMCO switched to the production of cigarette lighters. In the early days, these were made of empty cartridge cases. The shape of the cartridges could still be seen in the forms of the early IMCO lighters…In 1922 the first patent was registered.
According to the same site, the most famous IMCO lighter, the TRIPLEX Super, was developed as early as 1936:
The Austrian lighters are definitely not boxy but, rather, longer than they are wide. Some might say… phallic.
Back to Freud
Which brings us back to the man who lived across the street from Curt Allina. My cousin didn’t get involved with PEZ until decades later, in 1953. Freud, on the other hand, with his cigar addiction–he smoked up to 20 a day–might have tried the peppermint candy cure when it came on the market in 1927. His doctors had long exhorted him to stop smoking, especially after his first surgery for jaw cancer, in 1923. There’s also a good chance Freud would have heard about Eduard Haas I, the meshuggenah baking power manufacturer and fellow physician who conducted fatal medical experiments on himself.
Was the awareness mutual?
To some extent, no doubt. Pretty much everyone in Vienna would have heard of the world-famous founder of psychoanalysis by 1927. The larger question: Was Haas III thinking about Freud’s five psychosexual stages of childhood development–ideas first published in 1905–when he came up with the idea of substituting one oral fixation for another, peppermint candies for smoking? Perhaps not consciously but, as part of the zeitgeist, the ideas might have had an influence. So perhaps the ties between Freud and young Curt across the street were stronger than I originally thought, even though they only resided in the future.
On the other hand, I think there’s an excellent chance that Freud might have used IMCO lighters to fire up his cigars.