For whatever reason, it’s frowned upon in Western culture to take a big bowl of sugar and pour it directly into your mouth. Instead, we’re forced to transform the sugar into various confections and ingest them by way of various conveyances, yes, even at Christmas, which is the Official Holiday of Sugar.
Many of these confection conveyance systems – or CCS, as no one in their right mind calls them – are highly inconvenient. Pixy Stix made sense in a certain way – straws filled with coloured sugar that you funnelled into your mouth, if you didn’t mind little soggy bits of paper on your tongue – and who doesn’t?
But then someone said, “What about liquid sugar?” And then someone else said, “Anything we can do with all these half-burnt candles?” Voila: the wax bottle, which I’ve just learned are actually called Nik-L-Nip. Sounds like the result of a terrible accident at the smelting plant.
What you do with your Nik-L-Nips is your own business, but generally the idea was that you bite the wax top off the bottle, suck out the flavoured sugar liquid and then chew the wax. Afterwards, if you still have a hankering, you can gnaw on old shoelaces and make a nice petroleum jelly sandwich.
The king of candy inconvenience, though, is the Pez dispenser. Of course, the allure of the Pez dispenser has never been the candy but the various celebrity heads out of whose necks the candies are dispensed. Incidentally, that may be the first time in history anyone has written the phrase “various celebrity heads out of whose necks the candies are dispensed.” It’s a proud moment.
But back to Pez. The attraction may be the dispenser but without the candy it’s just a plastic head on a stick, like Ann Coulter. So you must fill your dispenser. By hand! In 2015! And in a couple of weeks, in 2016!
I’m getting ahead of myself. First you have to open the tiny Pez package, which isn’t so much wrapped as bound and gagged. The goal is to tear open the impossible package with your fingernails, carefully remove the clinging strands of paper and foil, extract the stack of chalky Pez bricks in a single column with one hand, while with the other hand fully extending and holding open the spring-loaded dispenser. If you pinch your Pez stack too hard – as unpleasant as a Nik-L-Nip, trust me – the little rectangles go squirting out of your hand and rattling about, a giveaway to your co-workers that you are playing with candy at your desk.
When you do eventually get your Pez into the dispenser, likely slotting them in a single candy at a time, you may then go about removing them, one by one, only this time the Pez character’s head does the work for you. Isn’t that fun?
That’s a lot of effort to get a chalky brick of sour sugar. And then you realize each package of Pez is only one flavour! In 2015! On a Thursday!
Hopefully you bought lots of Pez candy refills when you bought your dispenser. Otherwise, that dispenser will forever stand empty on your shelf, because no shopping list ever has read “milk, bread, bananas, Pez.”
Why then do Pez dispensers still exist? It took a Ned to show me the light. No, not a Ned dispenser. Just Ned.
Ned Hickson is a fellow humour columnist, except he’s from Oregon, so he’s a “humor” columnist. No, I don’t mean “humor” sarcastically. I mean he’s American, so he writes “humor” without a “U.” It’s a running joke, except now that I think about it, Ned would never make this joke. Who’s a “humor” columnist now, Ross?
Anyway, Ned posted a photo of a package of four Star Wars Pez dispensers he received as a gift. I happen to have a Darth Vader Pez dispenser on my desk these days, so I sent him a photo of it with the caption, “’I find your lack of Pez disturbing.’ All day he says that to me!”
“And that is why you fail. Eat too many Pez, you have,” Ned replied.
I then told Ned I had been thinking of riffing on Pez for a column but didn’t think I had enough material. He wrote back, “I think you underestimate the power of the Pez side, Ross. Search your feelings. And don’t make me pull out a Jedi mind trick in order to get you to write that riff.”
Oh, that’s why we still have Pez dispensers – so grown men can make candy-based movie references using what are essentially dolls. Thanks, Ned! You’re the Pezt!