What ever happened to: Pogs

Renee Rosenow

What ever happen to pogs? If you were alive in the 90s, and not living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard of these circular cardboard discs.

Maybe you have some fond – and maybe not so fond – memories of playing pogs. Most likely, the last time you played pogs was during recess at your elementary school, or at home with your older siblings. Maybe you were playing for keeps and you ended up losing your favorite pog with the flashy Batman graphic, causing you to become disenchanted with the game forever. Or, if you were lucky you could capitalize on your schoolmates, and round up dozens of your competitor’s pogs. Either way, for most of us, the world of pogs was inescapable during childhood.

But, let’s go back a little bit further and find out how pogs actually came into being. The game of pog was actually started in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. Kids would collect cardboard discs that were found under the bottle caps of a pineapple, orange, guava juice blend sold in the area, hence the acronym P-O-G. Things got carried away, as they often do, and the game of pog as we know it today was formed.

My own introduction to pogs was a fairly typical one, and it began in second grade. My brother, who is five years older than me, was in on the trend before I was – and like many younger siblings my life goal at the time was to be just like my older brother. I wanted his haircut, his wardrobe (which of course was handed down to me later) and his hobbies. If you were a serious pog player, you would gamble your pog and play for keeps.

I wanted badly to take part in this new recess phenomenon. It’s safe to say that pog is a game rooted in elementary school culture. At the time, gambling was a curious and interesting prospect – one that seemed like an exclusively adult activity – and pog is essentially juvenile gambling.

Timothy Jay, a frequent visitor of the Fountain of Youth game store, 216 Water St., thinks pog fizzled out for that very reason.

“The problem is that it got too competitive,” Jay said. “People stopped playing for fun and ultimately the biggest death nail was the schools. Schools all banned pogs, because it was gambling and it died a week after that.”

Jay doesn’t think pog has much chance at making a comeback, but in 2006 the game manufacturer Funrise actually created a new line of the popular 90s game.

There are no stores in Wisconsin that carry this new line of pogs – for better or for worse – depending on how you look at it. But thanks to the online marketplace that is eBay, there are more pogs available than you could ever care to own (my favorite is the Star Wars series).

It’s hard to say if these dated discs will ever make a mainstream come back, but the nostalgia of pogs is still alive and well in many of us.