Milk caps are essentially small discs made from card, plastic or aluminium; often depicting popular brands and characters. You might know them better by these brand names: POGs, Tazos, Krome Kaps, Slammer Whammers, Flippos and Sky Caps. They were enormous in the mid 90s! In fact, they’re the entry for 1995 in our Best Selling Christmas Toys of the 90s list.
You could collect them, trade them with friends, and play the game of Milk Caps with them…
Where does the game come from?
The game Milk Caps can be dated back as far as 1927, where it was played on Maui; one of Hawaii’s islands. Back then, it would literally be played with the caps taken off milk bottles.
As for the name POG (a popular brand name that milk caps are often known as), this is the name of a brand of juice and it stands for Passionfruit, Orange and Guava. Many people used to play with the bottle caps of this juice – way before the commercialization of the game.
Huge marketing practice
As well as being able to buy milk caps in shops, you could obtain milk caps in crisps packets, chocolate bars, cereals and boxes of drink. They became a huge marketing practice in the mid 90s; with most food and drink brands offering them free.
Tazos are a brand of milk caps created by Frito-Lay, which were distributed worldwide in its subsidiaries, such as Walkers Crisps in the UK. Many series of Tazos were licensed and released, including Loony Tunes, The Simpsons, and Disney.
They even created an album for their Star Wars: The Original Trilogy series, where you could display and treasure all your Tazos from a galaxy far far away!
One neat variation with Tazos’ take on milk caps is that they have small slots around the edges, allowing you to slot them together and build structures, if you’re not the game-playing kind.
How to play
Game play was pretty simple. You and your buddies would get together with a collection of POGs / Tazos / milk caps, and stack them up. Then one player would take his turn by taking a Slammer (a heavier plastic disc), and throwing it at the stack.
The discs would fly everywhere – some face-up, and some face-down. The player would then collect all the ones face-up, and hold onto them. The discs that are face-down then get stacked up again, and the next player throws his slammer.
It repeats until all the stack is gone, and the player with the most discs wins.
What’s the world’s rarest milk cap?
Skybox International – an American trading card company – released their own version of milk caps in the mid 90s, too, called Sky Caps. They ran several series including Batman Forever, the Simpsons, and Jurassic Park.
It’s this latter series – Jurassic Park – that is said to be amongst the rarest milk caps. Allegedly, a set a six holographic Jurassic Park Sky Caps, complete with slammer, sold at auction for $1,000,000.
There you have it – a brief history of milk caps! For more quick round-ups of the back stories of toys and games from throughout the decades, check out our A Brief History of Toys section.