States Say No to Four Loko

by Nathan Harden

In recent weeks we’ve been discussing the controversial new alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, also known as “liquid crack” or “blackout in can.” It contains the equivalent of five shots of alcohol and three cups of coffee in one can. Since its release in June, Four Loko has become incredibly popular among college students nationwide, propelled, in part, by a series of amateur music videos on YouTube celebrating the beverage. Meanwhile, a wave of student hospitalizations has sparked a wave of concern about the drink’s safety. Several colleges have banned the stuff. And now, state governments are cracking down as well.

The Michigan liquor control board has voted two to one to ban sales of Four Loko statewide, joining Utah as the second state to outlaw the brand. In addition, the state of Pennsylvania issued a statement recently encouraging distributors not to carry the beverage. The New York state liquor authority is reportedly preparing to ban it as well.

Here is a link to one of the most popular Four Loko music videos on the Web, with more than a million views. This video was released close to the product launch date, suggesting to me that it may have been part of a phony “street cred” corporate marketing plan.

Another YouTube trend is the Four Loko shotgun challenge, in which young people compete to see who can chug the entire 23.5-ounce can the fastest. Sounds healthy, right? (The blackouts, vomiting, and 911 calls are usually omitted from these videos.)