Originating in World War I, challenge coins are double sided coins purchased by the military, bearing a unit’s insignia or logo. They were given to servicemen/servicewomen in recognition for a job well done or upon initiation into a unit.
The rules of a challenge are not always formalized for a unit, and may vary between organizations. The challenge only applies to those members that have been given a coin formally by their unit. This may lead to some controversy when challenges are initiated between members of different organizations and is not recommended. The tradition of the coin challenge is meant to be a source of morale in the unit and forcing the challenge sometimes forced a reverse effect.
The challenge, which can be made at any time, begins with the challenger drawing his/her coin and slapping it (or placing it) on the table/bar. In noisy environments, continually tapping the challenge coin on a surface may initiate a challenge. (Accidentally dropping the challenge coin is considered to be a deliberate challenge to all present.) Everyone being challenged must immediately produce the coin for their organization and anyone failing to do so must buy a round of drinks for the challenger and everyone else who has their challenge coin. However, should everyone challenged be able to produce their coins, the challenger must buy a round of drinks for the group.
Although challenge coins started in the military, their popularity has grown immensely throughout Corporate America. Many businesses purchase coins with their logos and designs and are presented for a multitude of reasons including employee appreciation.