You’re ‘loco’ if you enjoy Four Loko

Mixing alcohol and caffeine is nothing new, so why should the FDA ban this incredibly vile drink?

Raghav Mehta


On Thursday night a group of Minnesota Daily employees convened in a two-bedroom apartment off Seventh Street and Fourth Avenue with a dozen cans of Phusion Projects LLC alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. In recent weeks, the beverage has come under the national spotlight after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared Four Loko a âÄúpublic health concern.âÄù Phusion Projects LLC have since announced their decision to remove caffeine, taurine and guarana from Four Loko in order to keep it on the shelves.

The first thing you need to know about Four Loko is that it is revolting. One can of the stuff roughly equates to the caffeine content of a tall Starbucks coffee, and the alcohol content of a bottle of wine. But it doesnâÄôt taste like alcohol. And it doesnâÄôt taste like an energy drink either. Four Loko tastes more like a vile concoction that some sadistic, drug-addled chemist created while locked up in his underground laboratory equipped with too much battery acid and not enough soda.

The flavors are varying levels of atrocious. The tall, obnoxiously colored cans give it the appearance of an energy drink, and two of its main ingredients, taurine and guarana, sound more like third-world countries than something you would want to put into your body.

Outside of what IâÄôd learned from news articles in the preceding week, I really knew nothing about Four Loko prior to Thursday night. But those first few swigs will undoubtedly stand out as one of the most miserable moments of my life as an American consumer.

It was somewhere around 8:35 p.m. when we had our first taste. Twelve different flavors were laid out before us âÄî everything from blue raspberry to cranberry lemonade âÄî and as we took our initial sips, we all sat there, grunting and moaning like children at the dinner table who didnâÄôt want to eat their broccoli.

âÄúThis tastes like lemonade that was made in a factory,âÄù A&E reporter Conrad Schoenleber quipped.

Not even half an hour had gone by, and I was in a state of utter disbelief. The drinkâÄôs flavor was like some sick blend of Jolly Rancher and Robitussin. It left this burning sensation in your chest as it trickled down into your system.

It was a strange feeling indeed. But it wasnâÄôt the same kind of drunk youâÄôd feel after drinking a few beers. It was more of a head rush. I was fully aware that I was under the influence of something, but I never felt like I had just guzzled down a great deal of alcohol. I experienced a level of confidence that was on par with a typical night of drinking, but I was hyper and intensely engaged in whatever conversation was occurring.

The taste became more tolerable after some time, but as it settles in your stomach, you can almost feel the product eating away at your insides as rabid termites would at a timber-based structure.

It only left me asking myself: âÄúWhat kind of demented masochist would honestly consume something like this?âÄù

And thatâÄôs the thing about Four Loko. The thought of prohibiting the sale of something so putrid and unappealing is just monumentally absurd. It also reeks of political opportunism.

The ban is largely driven by a legion of national political figures that include Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. In a letter addressed to the FDA commissioner, Franken wrote, âÄúa 2007 study by Wake Forest University found that students who consume caffeinated alcoholic beverages are twice as likely to be hurt, require medical attention, ride with a drunk driver and become victims of sexual assault than otherdrinkers.âÄù

First and foremost, let it be duly noted that I didnâÄôt engage in this behavior in any way while under the influence of Four Loko. The other issue I take with the statement is that students are already constantly mixing caffeine with their alcohol, whether itâÄôs Jack and Coke or the widely popular Jäeger bomb cocktail.

And itâÄôs false logic like this that leaves me skeptical of the argument in support of Four LokoâÄôs ban. Politicians and the FDA arenâÄôt pulling for a ban because they actually think it will make the public safer. If that were the case, they might as well pull alcohol off the market. ItâÄôs nothing more than a transparent political move disguised as moral outrage.


Raghav Mehta welcomes comments
at [email protected].