Four Loko aka ‘Crack In A Can’ vs. The FDA

College. St. Ides, Cisco, MD 20/20, Boone’s Farm, Old English and Zima if you were a “lady” – all the tools a broke college student needed to start the weekend party on negative funds. No matter where you went to school, cheap alcohol was present in dorm refrigerators and bad hangovers were a staple of Sunday mornings. My school (Howard U!) didn’t have much of a frat/binge drinking culture with spirits like vodka, but thanks to the abundance of corner-stores in the area, we had unlimited access to malt-liquors – perfect for that happy hour before you hit the club. In 2010, the tradition remains the same on campuses across the country, but today’s Washington Post reports on how one brand in particular, Four Loko, is coming under heavy fire after being linked to nine cases involving students, including a nearly fatal hospitalization:

“Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna called for the drinks to be banned and sent a letter to the FDA on Monday, saying the drinks “present a serious threat to public health and safety.”

The issue received new attention after the Oct. 8 party in Roslyn, a picturesque mountain town known as the place where part of the 1990s television series “Northern Exposure” was filmed.

Police first responded to a report of an unconscious female in a grocery store parking lot and learned about the party from her friends. At the home, officers found a chaotic scene, with students from nearby Central Washington University passed out and so intoxicated that investigators thought they had overdosed on drugs.”

So what’s in Four Loko that is so crucial? Caffeine (an upper) and cheap alcohol (a downer). After doing an informal survey of cousins and college students, the best description I received was “it’s like Cisco and Red Bull mixed together.” The caffeine keeps you going, masking the effects of the alcohol, all fueled by sugary flavors like kiwi-strawberry, served at 23.5 oz sizes with $3 price tag—basically a blackout in a can. With a formula like that, products like these will put any bar veteran in the hospital, not to mention inexperienced college students. The FDA agrees as they are currently investigating Four Loko’s parent company, Phusion Products concerning the beverage’s consumption safety.

We Parlouristas have all had our freshman year campus stories with the aforementioned products, but none involving passing out in a parking lot. Nothing should make you that messy. With it’s cheap price point, and very “youthful” packaging, Four Loko’s reach is undoubtedly off campus and also in convenience stores in minority heavy low-income neighborhoods across the country, adding to the already deadly cycle of alcohol and drug abuse crippling those communities. Spike Lee summed it all up in Bamboozled with “Da Bomb” :

Thoughts ladies? Have you tried Four Loko? It’s ok, we’ve all had our moments….tell us yours in the comments below.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington