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Why pogs and not legal tender?

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 6, 2007

Q: At the exchange, I pay with good old American dollars, and when I get my change, I get these ‘pogs’ as coins. First of all they are not legal tender, and because they are not indestructible, I’ve torn several of them. The exchange gives them out but will not accept them if they have been written on. Why can’t we just get good old American legal tender? What’s up with that?

A: Well, let’s let the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) handle that one. According to their Web site, the pogs are “used primarily at AAFES facilities downrange to save the Department of Defense the extra cost of transporting heavyweight coins into war zones.” That explanation has been around since they started issuing the pogs, which are supposed to be redeemable at any AAFES location worldwide.

AAFES also claims that “these certificates have become so popular” that they’re introducing “collectors’ series” and so forth. We found this a little hard to believe (we tend to think they’re “popular” because troops are forced to use them instead of coins), but then we poked around the Web a bit. And, sure enough, there is at least one non-AAFES Web site dedicated to pog collecting and trading. The site is run by a couple of guys named Steve Swoish (aka “Pog Master”) and Douglas Bell (aka“Pog Miner”).

They’ve even got a link to a site for collectors of British military forces pogs. If you want to check it out, go to www.aafespogs.com.

Got a question about goings-on in the Mideast? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil


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