Throughout generations, children have come together to play, thanks to some kind of toy. Previous Latino generations had their canicas, capiruchos (also known by bunch of other names), and trompos. Kids nowadays have iPods and, well, I think that’s all they need. My generation had their share of things too: yo-yos, paper football, and even the Tamagotchi.
All that stuff was great, but none of that could come close to the awesomeness of tazos. White kids had pogs, but tazos were our version of the same thing, and as far as we knew tazos were waaaay better.
Tazos were small plastic, circular disks with cartoon images or even soccer players on them. The most popular ones featured Looney Tunes, Tiny Tunes, and Simpsons characters. There was also the ever-important slammer. The slammer was a much thicker, heavier version of a tazo. Its sole purpose was to obliterate tazos (more on that in a bit).
You could really only get tazos in bags of Mexican chips (many Latin American, European, and Asian countries also had tazos). They had different variations of them, but none were cooler than the voladores, or flyers. Flyers had special grooves in them that allowed you to connect two tazos and launch them across the room. If that sounds lame it’s only cause you’re not nine years old.
Anyway, you collected tazos, and then you’d pit your tazos against other kids in school. Collecting tazos was cool, but the rush of winning or losing tazos made playing so addicting (I wonder how many of us grew up to have gambling problems).
There were different variations of rules, but the goal was always the same: use your slammer to flip over as many tazos as possible. Specific rules were negotiated before the game, but someone was going to lose some tazos, so you never risked losing the best ones in your arsenal. If you were really brave and feeling lucky, you’d bet slammer for slammer (the equivalent of racing cars for pink slips).
At their peak, you’d go to boys’ bathroom and find as many as three games going on (with another kid serving as the lookout). The school eventually found out about our underground games – kids were complaining about losing their tazos during games (yeah if you sucked!), and one kid got hit in the eye pretty bad when a slammer ricocheted off a tazo. The administration decided it wasn’t worth the headache, so they banned them. And since you couldn’t play in school or show them off to your friends, there was no point in keeping up with your collection.
Nonetheless, tazos had a good run. Again, for some of y’all, it may have been something completely different that brought you together with your friends. The important thing is that something brought you together and just let you be kids.
Unfortunately, I probably lost all my tazos. But as far as the memories are concerned…I know just where to find them.