Sunday, September 1, 2013

POGs

POGs were a fad in the 90's that I really got into. I had a HUGE collection of them. For those of you who didn't live through the craze, here are the basics. POGs are named for a Pineapple/Orange/Guava drink called P.O.G, made by Hawaiian Meadow Gold (they still make the drink, and you can apparently buy some and have it shipped to you - provided you are willing to pay $33 for a 6-pack).  Some sources state that POG "milkcaps" were a promotional item, and that P.O.G (the beverage) was never sold in glass bottles that included cardboard "milkcaps", and others say that they were sold that way at one time. Either way, the "milkcaps" that were called POGs were small cardboard discs, sometimes with a staple in the center, and frequently featuring characters, initially original characters (e.g. POGMAN) but later including popular cartoon and comic book characters, as well as original artwork/characters. POGs (the game) had its start either in Hawaii in the 1920's (probably influenced by a 17th century game from Japan) and eventually headed to the states from there. The game had several variations, but play was pretty simple. For the most part, every variation involved stacking up some POGs amd throwing a "slammer" (a thicker, heavier POG gamepiece, either homemade by gluing/stapling several POGs together, or purchased, often with set of POGs, and made of metal, rubber or plastic) at them. Honestly though, I spent a lot more time LOOKING for cool new POGs to buy than actually PLAYING the game. Pretty much every Newsroom, cornerstore, and minimart sold POGs, and most of them were cheap. The store I usually bought them at had a rate of one-for-ten-cents or three-for-a-quarter. Most Sundays, I would wander down to the store with a friend or two, and we would all buy whatever our fistful of change would allow. Our favorite series in the 3-for-25-cent bin featured skulls and psychedelic artwork, because, hey man, we were 12-year-old rebels, man. For a little more money, you could buy the Marvel and DC Comics series, one of my personal favorites. You could even find POGs made by the makers of the P.O.G. beverage line. For a solid two years, POGs were a serious THING. And then, like all fads, everyone lost interest. These little cardboard discs were serious business for me and my friends for a couple of years, and then -POOF- no one cared about them one day. We hit that age where we were much more interested in petty mischief, violent videogames, and stealing liquor and cigarettes from someone's parents than in playing...what were they called...Oh, that's right - POGs. I still have some of those POGs, though (Those are mine in the picture). And every now and then, I get them out and think "God, I wish my buddies were here to play a game of POG with me!"