Geek Trivia

Which 1920s Era Game Came Roaring Back To Life In The 1990s?

Hoop Stick
What Was the First Commercial Product to Use a Barcode?
A tube of pogs, spread out across a tabletop

Answer: Pogs

Those of you who were young in the 1990s (or had young children of your own then) most certainly recall the explosive popularity of the fad game Pogs. Players would collect small cardboard discs which they would stack up and knock down in battles against other players (and, borrowing a page from the marbles notebook, play for fairsies or keepsies depending on how cut-throat the game play was).

Pogs weren’t a new thing, however, but an entirely improbable resurgence of a 70-year-old game played by Hawaiian children. Back in the 1920s, Hawaiian children would use the thick cardboard caps that came on bottles of a mixed fruit drink sold under the brand name of POG (passion fruit, orange, and guava) by Haleakala Dairy of Maui to play a game very similar to the modern version of Pogs. In 1991, a Hawaiian teacher and guidance counselor, Blossom Galbiso, introduced her students to the game that she had played as a little girl with the goal of both teaching them math skills via the game and offering an alternative to some of the violent full-contact games they played during recess.

Pogs proved to be incredibly popular with her students and it quickly spread around the island of Oahu. By the end of 1992, the companies supplying caps to Hawaiian dairies were printing millions of extra caps to keep up with the demand from all the children thoroughly obsessed with the new game. By the end of 1993, the game had jumped from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, then to Europe and other regions; a game that had been virtually forgotten was now played by tens of millions of children the world over (and all thanks to the nostalgia and teaching initiatives of a single person).

If that doesn’t fill your quota for fascinating Pogs trivia for the day, here’s an extra bonus fact about the game. The original caps had small staples in them that, when the caps were stacked, introduced a novel bit of randomness to the movement of the stack when slammed by the slammer. The caps later produced for gaming didn’t have the staples and were a thicker cardboard.