If there’s one regret I have in life it’s that I got rid of my massive POG collection, likely as a donation to Value Village, over a decade ago. Every once in a while I’ll find a POG, like this Milhouse POG:
But other than that, I don’t encounter POGs too often in my everyday life. That is until I found two small containers of POGs in a baggie at Value Village for $3.
There was a good mix in the bag, including licensed POGs from Casper, Pocahontas, Spawn, Gargoyles, and The Lion King– an excellent snapshot of the culture at the time and a good cross section of the POGs that we all had. The true gems of this small POG collection, however, are the official POG-brand ones as well as ones that aren’t licensed.
I always appreciated the original POGs, the non-glossy ones with the staples. Pop Art has always been a favorite of mine, so these really spoke to me even before I knew what Pop Art was. The “I hope she plays POG” one was always one I held near and dear. This is true love that we’re playing witness to: they’ve each found their POG-playing soulmate and we see this snapshot of their blossoming love even before they truly know they’re soulmates. We could only be so lucky as to experience this type of love and true partnership in our lives. It’s a thing of beauty. Also, that squirrel POG always cracked me up.
The glossy POGs were also pretty radical, like a dinosaur on a surfboard, the little POG dude flossing, and a robotic crocodile catching a wave on a pink zebra striped board. Did I really just type those words?
Sometimes the art went beyond bad to just… bootleg? Cap Flingers? And that strange art on the “Checked” one? You had those. I enjoy the POGs from the local Police department that were just laminated cardboard. Not even enough money in the budget for a Milkcap Maker at least? A nice “Don’t do Drugs” POG from the Police really says a lot…
Yeah, that seems about right.
No POG collection would be complete without a few 8 Ball POGs or holographic POGs with such 90s-isms as “The Bomb” that were purchased from that weird kiosk in the mall that sold loose bootleg POGs.
I’ve saved the best for last– I went through all these POGs and picked out my five favorite:
1.) DOT from Animaniacs: I’ve talked about these on the site before, but I’ll do it again. I was obsessed with both POGs and Animaniacs in the 90s (I know, difficult to imagine but please play along). Alpha-Bits cereal in Canada had a promotion where they were giving away Animaniacs POGs in their cereal, so I convinced my mom that Alpha-Bits was my favorite cereal and we needed 800 boxes of it. Up until I moved out, she was buying Alpha-Bits cereal and I was forced to choke it down so I didn’t have to tell her that I’m kind of meh on Alpha-Bits and I only wanted it for the POGs. She still thinks it’s my favorite cereal.
2.) For Official Tournament Play: Were there ever any Official POG Tournaments? Retired POG players, get at me.
3.) ROBOPOG: How could you not love the little POG dude dressed as RoboCop? Official POGs got fucking weird.
4.) Not a Dancing Lemon: I thought this was a dancing lemon, you thought it was a dancing lemon, but it’s not a dancing lemon. This is a potato chip dressed up as a Mexican stereotype to advertise for Mexitos, Humpty Dumpty’s answer to flavored tortilla chips in Canada. I’m surprised Mexitos were still around when POGs were popular, to be honest. Really popular since this is POG number 16. How many were there?! I don’t know, but here’s a festive 80s Mexitos commercial:
5.) Lisa Simpson: Was this taken from some of the first season’s art? Is this bootleg? The hands. The pupils pointing in opposite directions. The mid-belch pose. Why?! Who was in charge?! Was anyone?! Man I love this POG. I seriously burst out laughing when I came across it because how could you not. You couldn’t. I want the entire set of these things.
Over 20 years later and I still love POGs. Brilliant marketing, guys. In my thrifting travels I’ll be on the look out for more POGs to share. It’s guaranteed that there are at least five gems in every batch of abandoned POGs. Science.