FDA Bans Alcoholic Energy Drinks; College Students Stock Up On Four Loko

November 22, 2010

Colorful metal cansCollege students across the country are stocking up on the popular alcoholic energy drink Four Loko before it is completely pulled off store shelves. According to The Washington Post, federal agencies bombarded four alcoholic energy drink manufacturers, including Phusion Projects, LLC, the company behind Four Loko, on Wednesday, telling them to stop distribution of their caffeinated malt liquor products, which have been deemed unsafe and illegal.

In recent months, Four Loko, nicknamed "blackout in a can", has been a major concern on college campuses. As CNN pointed out, the 23.5-ounce can is the equivalent of five beers mixed with the caffeine of a strong cup of coffee.

While students argued that the drink is the same as having a vodka Red Bull, experts told The Washington Post that it has much higher levels of alcohol and caffeine, creating a "wide-awake drunk" that makes it difficult for people to know just how inebriated they actually are. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been a vocal opponent of the concoction, calling them "dangerous and toxic brews".

However, despite warnings and the announcement of a federal ban, college students are rushing to stores to snatch up all the cases they possibly can. "We will be the last earthlings to enjoy the taste of Four Loko," said Tom Grahsler, 26, to The Washington Post. "I'm pretty sad to see it go."

Joey Maier, a junior at American University, added, "It's the end of an era."

Many college students have also proclaimed their solidarity on Facebook, with wall posts such as "Viva la Vida Loko" and "Save Loko". Greg Gerlach, an American University sophomore, said, "It's amazing how people have come together around this." Gerlach has more than 50 cans stocked and ready to sell once stores run out of stock. "I can buy it for around $2 a can, and as stores sell out, people are willing to pay more. People know I'm selling it. Everyone knows I'm obsessed with this stuff," he said.

Since the FDA announcement, several liquor stores have reported a surge in Four Loko sales and people who have never tried it are trying to get a taste before it's too late. "There was so much in the media about it that I wanted to try it," said Amanda Foster, 28. She has never had a sip of Four Loko, but said, "Now I'm set on trying it because it's going to be banned forever."

Some have argued that while the federal ban has good intentions, regulators seem to be missing the big picture. As The Boston Globe pointed out, alcohol and caffeine has been a popular pair long before Four Loko came around. Today, the drink of choice is vodka and Red Bull and before that it was rum and Coke and Irish coffee.

The problem is not the existence of the beverage itself, but a college culture that thrives off intoxication. "I feel like it's like a lot of other alcohol--it's easy to abuse when you consume it en masse," said Trish Garrity, a junior at Boston University, to The Daily Free Press, the school's independent student newspaper. "I don't personally think it should be banned. I just think people should be more responsible about drinking in general."

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"Four Loko ban fuels buying binge," washingtonpost.com, November 18, 2010, Jenna Johnson and Kevin Sieff

"Four Loko ban shouldn't blind regulators to binge drinking," boston.com, November 22, 2010

"Some students see govt. overreach in Four Loko ban," dailyfreepress.com, November 17, 2010, Meaghan Beatly

"Students aware of Four Loko risks, keep drinking," CNN.com, November 14, 2010, Andrew Katz

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