Punch buggy (also called punch bug, punch dub, piggy punch, slug bug, or beetle bug) is a car game generally played by children in which participants punch each other in the arm upon first sight of a Volkswagen Beetle while calling out "Slug bug!" or "Punch buggy!" in reference to the Beetle's nickname, the Bug. The color of the Beetle is also stated.
Most references about the game originate from unofficial sources and personal accounts from players. Estimates suggest that it has existed since the 1960s.
As part of the Punch Dub marketing campaign run by Volkswagen, a man named Zachariah Davis was presented as "the guy who made a game out of seeing VWs and punching his friends." This campaign, launched in 2009, claims that the game was started "over 50 years ago." as a humorous historical fiction created by the ad agency Deutsch Inc.
Some variations consider Volkswagen's 1998 reintroduction of the New Beetle invalid for game purposes but, as older models become more rare, variants may choose to include the new Beetles. In one version played in Newport Beach, Los Angeles and other Southern California cities, the game is played where any color gets one punch. However, Yellow, Orange or lightly tinged punchbugs earn 2 punches, followed by "Cheddar"(e.g. Punchbuggy Cheddar). Others allow "classic" bugs to count for two punches.
One author suggests similar games with station wagons, convertibles, trucks and buses. A recent variation in the United States is the "Fit hit," in which people punch each other when they see a Honda Fit. Other US variations include "Punch Woody": allowing players to earn punches for spotting any wood-paneled vehicle, and "Cruiser for a Bruiser": a spin-off involving Chrysler's PT Cruiser. These two variations meshed very well together in that some lucky players could catch the elusive wood-paneled PT Cruiser, better known as "Spruce Croozteen."
Another variant played mainly in the United Kingdom is "Yellow Car," a game in which participants call out that phrase whilst punching other members of their group in the arm upon seeing a yellow coloured vehicle (which are said to be one of the rarer car colors, compared to red or black, for example).
In Brazil, it is only valid when anyone sees a blue beetle. The person who sees it, shout "blue beetle" and then punchs someone nearby. Games of this type have been suggested for use in helping to engage autistic children during car rides.
- Polk, Janet (2006). Rules for Playing Slug Bug and Punch Buggy. AuthorHouse. p. 17. ISBN 1-4259-0229-4.
- Case, Steven L. (2003). Road Rules. Zondervan. p. 114. ISBN 0-310-25100-1.
- "Bug: The Strange Mutations of the World's Most Famous Automobile". WNYC: New York Public Radio. 2007-03-28.
- Punch Dub Campaign Press Release. "Volkswagen to Spotlight 'Punch Dub' Game in Super Bowl Ad, Online Campaign Touting Product Family". Volkswagen of America (press release).
- Dazzo, Susan (2005). Mom's Guide to Being a Superhero. Fair Winds. p. 133. ISBN 1-59233-116-5.
- Greenspan, Stanley and Wieder, Serena (2006). Engaging Autism. De Capo Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-7382-1028-5.