The Four Loko craze has captured federal attention, according to a recent New York Times article. The malt beverage, which boasts a robust alcohol content of 12% by volume and as much caffeine as a strong cup of coffee, has come under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of 18 attorneys general, including Connecticut’s own Dick Blumenthal.
Four Loko has become the subject of polarizing debate; legislators have accused its creators of dubiously capitalizing on the vulnerability of underage drinkers, whose preference for cheap, sweet, and highly intoxicating beverages is easily satisfied by a can of the souped up malt liquor. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Four Loko isn’t clearly marketed as an inebriant. Others contend that the dangers associated with the consumption of Four Loko are not clearly articulated by the companies or understood by consumers. Said Washington attorney general Rob McKenna, “You have a product where people don’t appreciate how much alcohol they’re consuming.”
And yet, that seems to be a huge part of the beverage’s appeal. Naive and victimized as they may seem, Four Loko consumers often acknowledge and embrace the risk of suffering from blackout episodes. There is a dangerous appeal, it seems, to getting your drank on for such little money.
Still others have forsworn the Four Loko entirely, repulsed by its fad appeal. The gastronomic criticism, “This tastes like death,” has also been leveled against the drink.
Four Loko has all the hallmarks of a love-or-hate phenomenon, and will probably continue to spur contentious debate even after the FDA has concluded its investigation. Until then, however, its judgment remains in the court of public opinion. Believe the hype, or don’t. Whatever you choose, abide by a precept that even the most unscrupulous of marketing companies strongly suggest: drink responsibly.