The origin of POGS
Q: This week’s question — and answer — comes from reader Paul Edney at FOB Warhorse, Iraq. He gives us the answer to this one: Why are those pieces of paper that AAFES gives you as change called “POGs?” What’s up with that?
A: “The name given to them — ‘POGS’ — is incorrect. I have lived in Hawaii for many years and I am currently stationed at FOB Warhorse, Iraq. The word ‘POG’ originated in Hawaii and means ‘Passion, Orange, Guava’ and was a mixed juice produced by a local Hawaiian dairy. To boost sales of this juice, they included colorfully printed round bottle tops, which came to be known as POGs — named after the juice. They mostly had a Hawaiian themes — surfing, Hula dancers, Diamond Head, Hawaiian Royalty etc.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, POGS became a collecting phenomenon in Hawaii. However, the collectible interest pretty much died when commercial printers started printing POGS by the thousands and flooded the market. These POGS never graced the top of any juice bottle and were purely speculative.
“The correct term for the items that are given out at the PXs instead of coins, is “scrip.” Scrip has been issued in one form or another by the U.S. military in all previous wars. In the past, soldiers often got their whole paycheck in scrip and this caused problems for those with families back home, as it was usually only accepted at their local PX.
“POGS never had any monetary value, while Scrip does. As a collector, I find the scrip that I get in my change very interesting and I’m always checking to see if it’s a new variety that I may not already have in my collection. While these scrip may not ever be worth much more than their face value, they make for an interesting collecting pastime for anyone that uses their local PX.”
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