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This week, the first season of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ended, firmly establishing it in pole position as the best TV show of 2016. While it was hard to gauge how much people cared about the show, I know myself, being the ornery old fool that I am, was into it, primarily because it's one of the few nationwide stories that I saw through from beginning to end. The grisly murder scene was discovered during the summer before my last year in middle school, and I fondly remember being unable to see the verdict read during my freshman year in high school because I was stuck taking a history test.
I don't remember what I got on that test, but the gasp that heard in the hallways when that "not guilty" verdict was read will be stuck in my ears for eternity.
The media circus behind the O.J. Simpson trial was insane; ABC's TGIF block and a number of big sports games were interrupted by the Bronco Chase, my grandmother's National Enquirer periodicals were all O.J. everything, and even a kids game like POG featured a coveted slammer that featured O.J. Simpson's likeness...in the slammer. Get it?
If you're not '90s enough to know what the game POG is, here's a brief explainer: POG evolved out of the milk caps game. A game that may have originated in Hawaii in the 1920s (or '30s), it was made up of two types of discs: milk caps (or POGs) and slammers. The POGs were thin, flat circles that came in an array of colors and designs. Stores would sell them in stacks of 20 or so, and kids traded and collected them like they ended up doing with Pokemon cards. The slammer was a heavier disc. The idea behind the game was to stack a bunch of POGs face-down; one player would then take the slammer and hit the stack, with the idea being that any POGs that landed face-up were ripe for the taking. The player with the most POGs at the end of the game was the winner.
I remember when I used a five-finger discount to grab a stack of POGs. It was in a regular trip to a Cumberland Farms convenience store in South Jersey with my cousin. The entire attitude going into that spot was if nothing was nailed down, you could take it. I wasn't trying to be down with POGs, I was just jacking. It wasn't until I got back to my cousin's house that I went over the spoils of my recent pillage that I realized what I had: that exact O.J. Simpson slammer (seen above), sitting like a king atop the POG throne. The pack I grabbed had about 20 POGs in a stout, clear plastic container (which had a clasp on it so you could clip it to your belt loop). Needless to say, I cherished this piece of chintzy pop culture memorabilia.
This was my collectible ceramic dinner plate, but I was still a teen who got nowhere with the fairer sex, so tiny discs with "ironic" (and random) pictures and sayings printed on them were my thing.
I wish I could say I still own this piece of pop culture history. But alas. One day, while running through a rain storm with the aforementioned stout POG container, I looked down and noticed all of my POGs were strewn across the highway. I tried to find the O.J. Simpson slammer, but it must have fell down a storm drain or something. Apropos for the trajectory of O.J. Simpson's post-acquittal life, honestly.
All of this is to say that the '90s were a magical time, and while we can relive that insane era through shows like The People v. O.J. Simpson, the only equivalent we have to the '90s POG craze might be dank memes. What a time.