All Things Considered
5:31 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Franklin Pierce Belongs To The Candy Ages - As A PEZ Dispenser

Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the United States and the only president to come from New Hampshire.

We started the week with a presidential inauguration, and on All Things Considered we looked at Franklin Pierce, the only president to hail from New Hampshire and one who added some unique touches to his inaugural ceremonies.

Well, we’re ending the week with another bit of Pierce lore – the 14th president has now made candy history by earning his own PEZ dispenser.

Darren Garnick talks about his article in New Hampshire Magazine with NHPR's Brady Carlson.

Darren Garnick wrote about this accomplishment in a piece for New Hampshire Magazine. (Full disclosure: I'm quoted in the article.) He says Pierce may not have stacked up to an Abraham Lincoln or a George Washington in the White House, but in the candy aisle, he does just fine.

“PEZ made a very handsome portrait of Franklin Pierce," Garnick says. "He’s wearing a tuxedo, and his hair is neatly to the side – I’ve seen a lot of pictures of him with the hair out of control… he looks like a suave, dapper gentlemen.”

Suave and dapper, perhaps, but also obscure – a lot of Granite Staters don’t know much about Franklin Pierce, even with statues, universities, historic sites across the state. Could the next generation of Granite Staters actually learn about their state’s only president through PEZ?

Garnick says yes: “I think this could be Franklin Pierce’s comeback. Because I do think we walk past the plaque on the building, statues just all look the same after a while… being in the special PEZ collector gift pack is going to give people a fresh look at Franklin Pierce.”

The company is eventually going to release PEZ dispensers of each president; Garnick says coming next are presidents 16 through 26 – that’s Abraham Lincoln through Teddy Roosevelt, so if you want to raise Pierce’s profile, you better do it now. Garnick is a fan of superheroes as well as presidents, so he uses a comic book metaphor to describe an obscure president like Franklin Pierce compared to better-known leaders.

“Remember the Super Friends series on Saturday morning? There would be the ‘fab five’ which would be Batman, Robin, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. And then you’d have Apache Chief, and the tornado guy – I even forget his name – the sumo wrestler who’d only show up on like one out of every ten episodes. I’d say that Franklin Pierce, if he was on the Super Friends, would be a guest star that would only show up one out of every ten episodes.”

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