Nearly 20 years ago, Gary Doss set out to sell computers from his small Burlingame store. A lifelong PEZ enthusiast, he decided one day to exhibit his candy dispenser collection.
As customers expressed more interest in PEZ dispensers than computer equipment, Doss decided to turn his shop into a shrine to the Austrian toy phenomenon.
With about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors per year, the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia is an unlikely pilgrimage site for PEZ collectors. It features every PEZ dispenser model ever sold. One can often find Doss behind the counter, flanked by the world’s largest PEZ dispensing machine — a snowman — a 2008 Guinness World Records winner.
Doss also has a soft spot for toys pulled off of the shelves for being dangerous or controversial. The back of his shop features a banned toy display that includes a 1950s-era science kit for children that contained radioactive materials, a Teletubby doll that appeared to taunt its owners to “bite my butt” and a set of lawn darts banned by the government in the 1980s after thousands of reported injuries.
Doss credits his love of PEZ to their inherent frivolity: “The key word is silly. Twenty years later, it’s still a silly thing to collect.”