It’s time to pour one out of a fallen friend. Four Loko the caffeinated alcohol drink that came in candy colors and flavors is no more. Like Sparks before it, the caffeinated alcohol drank was doomed from the start to be the opposite of a fine wine. Which is funny because anyone who has ever cracked open a Four Loko was also doomed from the start.
On Tuesday, the company that produces Four Loko announced that it came to an agreement with a team of 20 attorneys general to curtail production and sales across the nation. Teenagers, college kids, and adults who thought embibing Four Loko was hilarious will have to mourn by butt chugging boring stuff like beer or a drink that will be called Four Loko, but isn’t caffeinated.
Four Loko was introduced to the market in 2005, but it only got very popular in 2010 when college kids started using it for their binge drinking party games. I was in liberal arts school at the time. Everyone knew the drink was gross, but considered consuming it a funny and ironic joke. One morning, I found my college boyfriend’s roommate asleep in the bathroom in a pool of bright blue liquid that had spewed from his body. It was a horrifying sight, but that was nothing compared to the smell, a pungent blend of artificial flavors, stomach bile, magic mushrooms and half digested pizza. I also remember a party game called “Cuatro Loko” that involved participants drinking four Four Lokos in succession. The end game of the challenge was basically to see who could drink too much and still not die. Everyone loses.
The combination of the stimuland caffeine and the depressent alcohol led to increased danger and consequences when binge drinking. According to The Wire, “[s]everal states banned the drink as a result, and Phusion agreed to lower the level of caffeine in the drink.”
Caffeine reduction wasn’t the only compromise Phusion made before ultimately ending Four Loko as it was. The company agreed to no longer advertise the drink on college campuses, save from licensed retailers. They also changed their marketing to not glorify binge drinking and stopped using models who appeared to be under the age of 25 after they were criticized for advertising to the underage (as if anyone of age wants to drink blue raspberry flavored anything). Phusion begrudgingly agreed to pay $400,000 to regulators.
The Attorney General of Illinois (the location of Phusion Projects HQ) said the following regarding the settlement:
“Phusion used marketing and sales tactics that glorified alcohol use and promoted binge drinking. This agreement is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to reduce access to dangerous caffeinated alcoholic beverages, especially to underage drinkers.”
“While our company did not violate any laws and we disagree with the allegations … we consider this agreement a practical way to move forward and an opportunity to highlight our continued commitment to ensuring that our products are consumed safely and responsibly only by adults 21 and over.”
I penned this short obit for the party drink as we once knew it: Caffeinated Four Loko died as fizzingly as it lived, brightly colored and disgusting. It is survived by a number of other alcoholic beverages that are less appealing to kids––but thanks to vodka tampons, just as deadly. R.I.P. Four Loko (2005-2014)
Also, check out this hilarious Four Loko themed comedy sketch from a few years ago:
H/T: The Wire Photo: Getty