IT'S A POG-NACIOUS GAME, OR JUICE

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Maui's Haleakala Dairy couldn't have know what it was starting more than 20 years ago.

First, the dairy's passion-orange-guava juice, marketed under the POG brand, became synonymous with a milk-cap flipping game Hawaiian children had played since the 1920s. Now, POG is hitting the big time as a popular game for kids on the mainland and the focus of major advertisers' promotions.

POG, the game and the drink, even has an serious agent. Alan Rypinski, the man who brought the world Armor All protectant , is now president-ceo of the World POG Federation, based in Costa Mesa, Calif.

"We want POG to find its way to [becoming] one of the all-time collectibles," said Mr. Rypinski, who formed the federation by acquiring 50% of the POG drink and 86% of the game from Haleakala Dairy last year.

Basic POG is played by stacking poker-chip-size, brightly decorated cardboard discs, called POGs, and hitting them with a heavier disc, called a "kini," to flip over as many POGs as possible. The discs originally formed the caps of milk or juice bottles.

The World POG Federation markets several series of POG game pieces, usually sold as sets with discs in four designs and one kini in toy, comic book and trading card stores for about $2.

POG has already been the basis of promotions for Disneyland, Nordstrom stores and Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays. A nationwide POG promotion for Coca-Cola Canada starts this month.

"Nothing is quite as colorful, nor as fun, as these little discs," Mr. Rypinksi said.

Nor as easy to copy. Other advertisers have invented their own versions of POG.

For example, Coca-Cola Foods is giving away Hero Caps decorated with Marvel Comics' X-Men on packages of Hi-C fruit drinks.

Even marketers of baseball cards, the phenomenon Mr. Rypinski most likens to POG, are getting in on the game. SkyBox International introduced a line of milk caps last year.

So far, the World POG Federation hasn't run any advertising for the game, though it has an in-house agency. Instead, it has relied on promotional partners to advertise the game and concentrated efforts on setting up POG tournaments and other kids events.

Working on the assumption that the growing popularity of the game may create a market for the POG drink, the federation is testing the juice in Washington state and Oregon, with hopes of expanding to other markets later this year.

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