Exclusive Interview

Curt Allina

Curt Allina was the executive vice president of PEZ® 1953-1979. These interviews were conducted between December 1992 and February 1994

How did you get started with the PEZ® company?
The way they came to me...it was the uncle of my first wife. He worked as an independant agent for Haas in Central America. Haas, Sr., who is Consul Haas's father, came to Vienna, visited with us and made me an offer. I took it and some months later he came back again and formed a corporation with the Dr. Whittenberg as the attorney and Mr. Graff as the accountant, and I was to be vice president all of a sudden. It was in 1952 or 1953. (See Allina Contract. Appendex E. ED.)

Have you heard of the accounting company of Joseph Graff? Joseph Graff, the old man, was a fantastic human being, an Austrian, and he passed away. The Graff Agency is still the accounting firm for the company today. He used to be like a father to me. The first attorney they had was Dr. Whittenberg, who passed away in 1962, and Mr. Haas, Sr. They were my mentors.

How long had you been in the U.S.?
I had been in the U.S. since 1948. I was not married at the time.

Where were you born?
I was born August 12, 1922 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. I was raised and educated in Vienna, Austria. When I was small in Vienna--about eight--Sigmund Freud lived across the street from me. We lived at 18 Berg Gasse and he at 19 Berg Gasse.

Did you ever talk to him?
Why? He was an old man, I was a boy (laughs). I didn't know about him until years later anyway.

What brought you to the U.S. in 1948?
My father had been in the States since the 1920s.

What were you doing before Haas found you?
I worked for HyGrade Foods in the U.S. You know, the meat packers. They're still in business, mostly known for their frankfurters or hot dogs.

What did Haas want you to do?
He wanted me to manage the American PEZ-Haas, Inc., which was the name of the first corporation.

Was that just PEZ products?
Yes, just PEZ®.

Before you set up the company around 1953 with Haas, how could PEZ® have reached the U.S. before then? Could anyone have been selling it?
No. Nobody had it.

I bought some items from a woman in New York who said that someone she knew returning from World War II brought back a PEZ® dispenser.
That could be. They had them in Europe around 1948.

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