This article has not been edited by FRANCE24.
Four Loko may seem like any other energy drink but after reading the government mandated warning labels you notice that it has one ingredient that makes it different from all the others on the U.S. market, alcohol. One 23.5 ounce can has as much alcohol as six beers and as much caffeine as both a full energy drink and a full cup of coffee, not counting the other stimulating chemicals such as guarana. This combination of caffeine and alcohol apparently hides the feelings of intoxication from the drinker, enabling them to consume far more alcohol than they otherwise would without passing out.
This drink has been the biggest hit among college and high school students and has turned into a cultural phenomenon. The reason isn't the strange combination of the ingredients of the drink or multiple flavours it comes in, but because one can of Four Loko and similar brands can cost less than three U.S. dollars. Ever since transferring to my new residential university I found close to ten empty cans of Four Loko around campus. It wasn't till I heard about the effects of Four Loko from my friend that I really knew what it was. He described a party he went too, where he was given a Four Loko after asking for something to get him drunk that was cheap. After consuming one can he told me almost instantly blacked out, then woke up several hours later still drunk before blacking out again. It is stories like this that has led to the nickname "Blackout in a Can".
Stories similar to this have caused significant uproar among state and federal branches of government. In October students at Central Washington University were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning with blood alcohol levels ranging from .12 to .35, with the legal limit being .08 and fatal levels being .30. Police first believed the students had consumed some sort of date rape drug, but later found that they all had consumed Four Loko among other drinks. Incidents like these can be found all across the country, and has led several universities and states to ban the drink all together with the most recent being New York which banned the drink on December 13th. The Food and Drug Administration has also been poised to ban the drink citing that the combination of depressants and stimulants leads to the higher chance of alcoholic related injuries.
This combined pressure has led Phusion Projects LLC, the makers of Four Loko, to publicly announce the end of their production of alcoholic energy drinks. Yet there has been no set date for the end of Four Loko, and in many states the drink remains for sale and the drink of choice for many students, who have started stockpiling the drink for when it is finally pulled off of the market. From what I have heard, some are even going to have Four Loko tribute parties.