What are Pogs?

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Pogs are small cardboard discs used in a game that was popular in the early 1990s in the US. The game originated in Hawaii and was developed by dairy farm employees during their breaks. The game involves players contributing an equal number of pogs, using a slammer to scatter them, and collecting any pogs that land face up. The game has caused controversy over its origins and has been banned in some schools due to concerns about academic performance.

Pogs are small cardboard discs used in a game of the same name that was very popular in the early 1990s in the United States. Pogs typically have an image on one side and are plain or simply patterned on the other. They look remarkably like the cardboard inserts used in dairy caps, because the first pogs were actually dairy caps; the game was developed by bored workers who had a surplus of milk caps to play with.

The game appears to have developed in Hawaii during the 1920s and, according to popular myth, was developed by employees of a dairy farm looking for something to do during their breaks. Supposedly, the name comes from an acronym for a popular type of juice: passion fruit, orange, guava. This juice came in glass jars, much like milk, and caps were readily available to people of all ages.

As the game took hold on the mainland, several game companies started making pogs for people to collect, trade, and play with. Increased awareness of the game has led to some controversy regarding its origins. A Japanese card game, menko, is remarkably similar to pogs, and some people have suggested that since pogs originated in Hawaii, the game was likely heavily influenced by this Japanese game.

The game begins with the players deciding whether to play for real or not. In a game where people play for real, they keep the pogs they win over the course of the game. Once this decision has been made, the players make a pile of pogs; each player should contribute an equal number, keeping the game fair.

Using a larger, heavier puck called a slammer, the first player strikes the pile, causing it to scatter. Any pog that lands face up is won by this player and taken out of play. The pogs are stacked again for the next person, who repeats the process. The game ends when all pogs have been eliminated from the game. In a game where players don’t play for real, each player returns pogs belonging to others.

Many children became very fond of pogs as the pieces were relatively cheap, allowing people with limited income to play. However, the game has raised problems for school districts, as some children have struggled with the game’s competition. Several schools actually banned pogs during the heat of the gaming craze, out of concern for academic performance.

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