Every cartoon character and their mother has a Pez dispenser based on them, but real people know they’ve truly arrived when their likeness is used on top of one of the famous candy containers. As of fall 2012, this exclusive pantheon includes just nine members: American heroes Paul Revere, Betsy Ross and Daniel Boone, rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis Presley, Prince William and Duchess Kate and, um, the the main cast of defunct TLC reality show American Chopper.
Revolutionary War star Revere, original flag-maker Ross and wilderness pioneer Boone were the very first actual humans to be featured on a Pez dispenser, receiving this high honor as part of the manufacturer’s Bicentennial series in 1976. These very-rare pieces are on display at the Burlingame, California Museum of Pez Memorabilia and occasionally pop up for sale on the Internet. The Bicentennial series also included Uncle Sam and generic characters like Indian chiefs and soldiers.
It wasn’t until three decades later that Pez based another model on a real person. Paul Sr., Paul Jr. and Mikey from American Chopper were featured as part of a limited-edition set, making them the first living humans to be immortalized by the Austrian candy company.
The next year, Pez got back into the people-we’ve-actually-heard-of game with an Elvis series (a fake Elvis pez dispenser previously showed up in 1994 legal thriller The Client). 1958 Army Elvis, 1968 Comeback Special Elvis and 1973 Aloha from Hawaii Elvis are included in this rocking set, which also comes with a three-track CD.
In April 2011, one-of-a-kind Prince William and Duchess Kate Pez dispensers sold at auction for over $13,000. The money raised by the unique models, the second-priciest dispensers in history, was donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. A one-of-a-kind astronaut Pez dispenser sold for $32,000 in 2006.
All of the people profiled above will soon have company to compete with. Just last month, Pez announced plans for an American President series, which will include all 43 of our Chief Executives. I call first dibs on William Henry Harrison!