“Pez: it’s like printing money,” rejoices Steve Glew, the self-designated Pez Outlaw, in a new trailer for the directorial debut of Amy Bandlien Storkel. Winner of a Special Jury prize at SXSW 2022, “The Pez Outlaw,” co-directed by Bryan Storkel, traces the candy dispenser craze, a gold rush in the ’90s collector community. At the time, Pez U.S.A’s CEO would singlehandedly gatekeep which Pez dispensers would enter the American market, causing collectors to covet the more elusive varieties from Europe, the trailer reveals.
At the center of this frenzy is Glew’s formidable enterprise of smuggling and peddling thousands of the most coveted Pez dispensers from Eastern Europe. “But he gained an enemy along the way: the CEO of Pez USA, The Pezident,” Storkel told us. “Steve’s newfound archnemesis was determined to destroy him, yet Steve was equally determined to win.”
Glew made a killing from these colorful plastic curiosities – to put the Pez mania into perspective, one collector reveals that she paid a shocking $11,000 for a single dispenser. Pretty lucrative for a toy that typically goes for less than $3 today, right?
Capturing Glew’s infectious charm and resilience, Storkel hopes that viewers walk away from “The Pez Outlaw” spellbound by the same joie de vivre that Glew inspired in her while she documented his story. “This is one of those films that should leave you feeling happy and hopeful about life in general,” she shared. “It might make you believe in love or have conversations about lifelong goals or just go buy some Pez. As Steve would say, having a good story and telling it to the world makes it all worth it.”
Storkel is best known for co-producing “The Legend of Cocaine Island” and the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Alabama Snake.” Recently, she was supervising producer on “Butterfly in the Sky,” a documentary exploring the legacy of “Reading Rainbow,” the beloved children’s TV program from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
You can catch “The Pez Outlaw” in select theaters and on VOD October 21.