Click here to view the other side of the Point-Counterpoint: “Four Loko is only the face of the issue”
Four Loko is a popular alcoholic drink commonly referred to as “liquid cocaine” or “blackout in a can.” The 23.5 oz. canned beverage contains 12 percent alcohol by volume and the “Four” in the name suggests the four other main ingredients; caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol which weigh in at 660 calories together. People think that the combination of alcohol and caffeine in the drink is so unsafe that it warrants FDA investigation and perhaps a complete ban on the product. I believe this idea is absurd; and Phusion Projects, the company that makes Four Loko, should not have to suffer as a result of stupidity of a few consumers.
The major concern regarding this drink is the fact that it contains both a depressant and a stimulant; which counteract one another. The caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol until the caffeine wears off. In simple terms, people continue to drink because they don’t feel the effects of the alcohol until much later.
As a bartender I know that one of the most popular drinks sold at the bar is Red Bull and vodka. Sure, I have to make the extra effort to mix two things together – but what the cocktail contains isn’t much different from the contents of Four Loko. Furthermore, energy drinks paired with alcohol are nothing new, especially among college students who want to let loose quickly and party all night long. There are currently similar products on the market to feed this demand, for example, Joos, Sparks and Rockstar and Vodka.
But if they can’t buy it in a can, they’ll just mix it themselves. PJ (party juice), also known as “jungle juice” or “drank,” is quite regularly served at frat parties and other house parties. This sort of drink is commonly made using two gallons of Hawaiian Punch for every one bottle of Everclear or Deisel (150-190 proof) and a case of energy drinks.
Clearly every version of this concoction differs slightly but all have the same intention of masking the taste of alcohol while getting you inebriated and keeping you wired on caffeine so you can party longer.
All too often we point fingers at others, trying to blame a larger entity for our own stupidity. We blame fast food restaurants for making us fat, we blame headphone companies for damaging our ears, and now, Four Loko is the unfortunate company being blamed for irresponsible college kids who can’t handle their alcohol and whine and complain about it. As an individual, you are responsible for what you choose to put in your body. If you are unsure as to what a product contains and you have any concerns regarding that product, you should look at the nutrition facts on the back of the can before you ingest it.
Four Loko should not be banned simply because people aren’t using it properly. If I smack someone across the back of their head with a book and it catches on and other people start doing it, do books become unsafe? I’m sick of being babied by administrations telling me what I can and can not do or possess. They are slowly stripping down our right to make our own decisions because they think they know what is best for us. I’m a grown independent women capable of making my own decisions, and if I choose to drink a Four Loko, that should be up to me.
The fact is, it is an alcoholic drink, which in the United States means you must be 21-years-old in order to purchase it. In the U.S. you are considered an adult at the age of 18, and then have three extra years to mature before you are allowed to purchase and drink alcohol. By that time, you should be smart enough to know how you react to alcohol, and if you don’t, you’ll have to deal with the repercussions – and that’s no ones problem but you’re own.
The reason it is so popular amongst college kids is very simple. It is economically practical; it has a variety of nine fruity flavors that are appealing to those who may not like the taste of beer or harder alcohol and it gets you drunk quickly and allows you to feel more awake. To us, it makes more sense to throw down five bucks for a couple of cans that will last the weekend than to purchase a 30 dollar bottle of alcohol, some cartons of juice of soda to mix it with, some ice and don’t forget the red solo cup! Clearly Phusion Projects has found a product that suits our desires, and with one can, you’re well on your way to one hell of a night.
Let’s face it: College kids drink to get drunk. Four Loko is not a drink that you serve in a wine glass at a fancy dinner party, nor is it a drink you play pong with. Each beverage has its purpose and the purpose of Four Loko’s is to get you “nice” quickly, and as far as I’m concerned, the drink meets its job expectations.
Stacey Linehan is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]