Throwing a small metal disc at a pile of lighter discs was an essential playground skill in the 1990s, as mastering that skill was the only way you could triumph in ‘Pogs’, one of the most fiercely competitive childhood games.
Pogs grew out of a game in Hawaii in the 1920s where you slammed milk caps against a stack of your opponent’s milk caps to flip them. Any that were flipped were yours to keep.
Unlike Panini stickers or bubblegum cards, the point of collecting Pogs wasn’t to try to collect a full set. Pogs were so widespread and available from so many different places that it was almost impossible to do that. Instead, the point was trying to get the most unique, cool-looking Pog you could find and show it off to your friends.
As the popularity of Pogs exploded, you could collect free ones from crisps, cereal packets, McDonalds Happy Meals – almost everywhere. Their small, cheap nature made them a huge success.
The official mascot of Pogs came in the form of toothy caveman creature Pogman who appeared in various guises on the back of the discs and also starred in his own line of books.
Pogs eventually became a victim of their own success. Like other playground fads, teachers worried about the impact Pogs were having. With fights breaking out over lost Pogs and students being distracted from class, Pogs were banned by some schools and eventually, their popularity fizzled out.
There has been no modern-day successor, although some Pog tournaments are still held for hardcore players.