By Morgan Jerkins '14
Have you noticed absurdly brightly-colored cans at your average room parties? I know Four Loko is somewhat old news, but the drinks are becoming such a movement that a bit of their history is in order. In 2005, three students at The Ohio State University created a beverage after noticing that other college students were mixing drinks containing alcohol and caffeine together. The trio then formed a company called Phusion Projects and started to sell this 23.5-ounce malt beverage product, Four Loko. Since its birth, Four Loko has swept the nation, spawning Facebook groups with names like “All I remember was touching the 4 Loko can” and nicknames such as “Blackout-in-a-can.” Despite this comedic surface, there is a deeper, and much deadlier, significance to this concoction.
Ramapo College, which isn’t too far from Princeton, and Central Washington University have already outlawed the drink. Nine students at an off-campus CWU party were hospitalized after consuming the drink, with blood alcohol contents ranging from 0.12 percent to 0.35 percent. Keep in mind that 0.30 is considered to be lethal. One can of Four Loko has 660 calories and is equivalent to six light beers and two cups of coffee. Due to the persistence of 18 attorneys, it was revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has never approved adding caffeine to alcohol.
The New York Times reported that Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the colorful packaging and flavors of the products are “explicitly designed to attract under-age drinkers.” Chris Hunter, one of the co-founders of Phusion Projects, argued that the company is being singled out. Regardless, this drink has become wildly popular, and judging by the thousands of people who rave about the drink on Facebook, there seems to be no indication of a coming slump.