From Pez Dispensers to Vibrators: A Museum for Everyone

As I was standing in line at the grocery store, I noticed a Phillies Pez candy dispenser staring at me.  Okay, it wasn’t really staring, but it was eye level with me, and the little baseball head seemed to beckoning to me.  So, being that the Pez head was on the “impulse buy” display, I thought it only appropriate that I purchase it.  An elderly gentleman standing behind me saw me put it in my cart and asked if I knew how Pez candy came to be.

I admitted that while I love the little head candy dispensers, I was not knowledgeable about their origin. Then the man explained that the Pez candy came on the scene in 1927 to help people quit smoking. At that time the dispensers had no heads; the heads showed up in the early 1950s.

I was impressed with his Pez knowledge, and asked if he worked for the company. He said he learned all about the dispensers when he visited the Pez museum in California. Yes, the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia is a museum dedicated to Pez dispensers. Honestly, if I was visiting California, the Pez museum might not be my first tourist stop. I would think there are more exciting places to visit from Universal Studios to the ghost town known as Silicon Valley. I want to say that I am shocked that there is a museum for Pez dispensers, but I am not.  When I got home from the grocery store, the Pez man was still in my brain, so I looked up that museum and that museum got me wondering what other odd museums existed, so I began to research.

In a little town in Iceland, which is known for its fishing and whale watching, there is the Phallogical Museum. And what do you think they have on exhibit here?  If you guessed penises, you would be correct.  The museum, which draws thousands of tourists each year, is home to a collection of phalluses or is it phalli? The Phalluses come from whales, seals, bears and other mammals, Okay, at this time, I caution all men to look away as it might be too painful for you to read on – aw, screw it — some of the “exhibits” are mounted on the walls. In fact, this year, the museum posted the penis of a 95-year-old man. Rest assured, the curator is not Lorena Bobbitt. The man was dead first before he gave it up. He willed his penis to the museum.

As men read this, they are crossing their legs and, to be honest, most women are cringing at the thought of seeing a 95-year-old penis — except for the chick who is marrying Hugh Hefner — but the museum is a huge hit.  In fact, it has moved to accommodate a growing number of exhibits.

Mounted phalluses are not your thing?  Do you like art? I am not talking the work of the great impressionists or Picasso or even Andy Warhol.  No, I am talking bad art. Well, if your favorite pieces of art include a portrait of Elvis on velvet or “Dogs Playing Poker”, I have a museum for you. MOBA or the Museum of Bad Art in Massachusetts collects, preserves, exhibits and celebrates all forms of bad art. This museum gives hope to all the artist wannabes throughout the world. If your talent lies somewhere between Van Gogh and a three-year-old who cannot color inside the lines, you might have a shot at an exhibit at MOBA.  I’m not sure if this is an exhibit to brag about or invite your friends to, but it is an exhibit. I guess it would look interesting on a resume – right?

One encounter with a stranger about a stupid Pez dispenser inspired me to give up hours of my day to look into other quirky museums that exist around the world. Once I started reading about these institutions, I couldn’t stop. Sure, there are the typical school trip, natural museums out there — the ones which teach about the human experience and evolution. But if evolution is not your thing, you can go to the Creation Museum in Kentucky which brings the Bible stories of Genesis to life.  Not into how life formed?  Well, you can go to India and check out the Sulabh Museum of Toilets. If bathroom fixtures do nothing for you, how about a trip to McLean, Texas to see Devil’s Rope, the barbed wire museum. I guess I am not surprised that the Museum of Eroticism resides in Paris, but don’t worry if you don’t have a valid passport. Besides being home to the Pez dispensers, the buzz is that California is also home to the Antique Vibrator Museum. Maybe you will find that exciting!

Okay, it’s true I got a little carried away with these museums, but I am amazed at what exhibits attract people. I have to admit that I am rethinking a trip to the Pez dispenser museum. It might be boring, but at least I know no body parts will haunt my dreams.

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