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WorkinCT: Iconic candy dispensers on display at PEZ Visitors Center in Orange

ORANGE -- There’s no shortage of dispensers and PEZ Candy when you head to the PEZ Visitor Center in Orange. This is the spot where PEZ has been made since the 1970s.

“If you’ve ever had a PEZ dispenser from 1975 until now, this is the building it came out of. We do a lot of volume here,” said Shawn Peterson, the Direct to Consumer Business Manager for PEZ Candy USA.

Shawn Peterson said in an average week, the factory uses about 100,000 pounds of sugar and makes about 12 million candy tablets per day! That’s a lot of candy going through the machines and a lot for the 80 to 100 employees who work at the factory to package up and ship out.

“Right from here we package it up, we box it up, palletize it, put it on a truck and off it goes down the road to distribution centers, retail stores, whatnot, from California, top to bottom, left to right and everywhere in between,” said Peterson.

Thanks to the Visitors Center, which has been open about five years now, customers can see how that’s done. A glass window looks into the factory.

“People buy PEZ every day at the store, so coming into the Visitors Center, they see a different perspective. They see how it’s made, they can see the depth of what we’ve had in products over the years,” said Christian Jegen, President and CEO of PEZ Candy.

They also get a look into the future.

“When I came into PEZ, I said we need to show the people who come in here what’s new, what’s coming, it’s kind of a sneak peak of what’s coming from us for the next six months. So it’s actually a popular case people look at,” said Jegen.

In the case right now are new additions to the Star Wars line and some new Nintendo characters. Jegen says PEZ products haven’t changed too much over the years. The dispensers and candies are still the primary products, but the company still needs to be innovative.

“You have to stay in the forefront of licensing. Kids love their movies, adults love movies as well, so we try to get the best licenses out there to keep the products moving forward. We experiment with different technologies. We have sounds, we had some light up dispensers last year, so it really is keeping things fresh and interesting for all of our consumers,” he said.

That is all while researching, creating and making the products in Orange.

“It’s been naturally an interesting process. The business grows every year. Connecticut is a good home for us. The local community has been very receptive to our business, and we try to give back to the community whenever we can,” said Jegen.

For the fifth anniversary of the PEZ Visitors Center, PEZ sold a special dispenser and donated the proceeds to a local charity. Five hundred of the dispensers were sold, and more than $5500 was raised for The Hole in the Wall Gang.

For more information on the PEZ Visitors Center, click here.

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