Recently, a spotlight has been fixed on Four Loco, what the manufacturer touts as a "premium caffeinated alcoholic beverage." The drink is designed to be a 15-year-old's alcohol dream in my estimation.
When young people begin to drink alcohol, they notice right away that it doesn't taste very good. Four Loco has solved that problem by loading the drink with sugar and flavors include watermelon, lemonade, berry and orange. The drink is a full 23.5 ounces and has over 600 super sweet calories. I wonder if there really are adults feverishly hunting for super sweet alcohol that is watermelon flavored?
When children drink, they usually don't hang around their house getting drunk while mom and dad watch, they have different drinking behaviors than most adults. Children must drink as much alcohol as possible in the shortest period of time. Four Loco has thought of that too. Each can provides 12% alcohol content, about three times the rate of regular beer.
As children drink alcohol they often experience a sedation effect and will become sleepy or sometimes just fall asleep after several drinks. The makers thought of that too. In order to keep the consumers awake, they infused the drink with the stimulant compounds taurine, guarana and caffeine so that more of their product can be consumed. For some, the stimulant effect may be dangerous or potentially fatal in sufficient quantities.
Each can of Four Loco contains 135 milligrams of caffeine. Red Bull; another popular stimulant, non-alcohol drink, contains about 76 milligrams of caffeine.
The manufacturers also considered that children usually don't have a lot of money to spend on alcohol, if you guessed that the makers thought of that too, you would be correct. The makers have made their product relatively cheap when compared to other alcoholic drinks. A 23.5-ounce can of Four Loco costs $1.99 to $3 depending on where it is sold. Some stores sell the product in a four pack that averages about $9.
Finally, the makers have made the can look like other non-alcohol energy drinks. It may be possible that Four Loco could be in a refrigerator without a parent noticing it. Again, the makers thought of everything.
Now young people are showing up in hospital emergency rooms after consuming Four Loco with alcohol poisoning or near-poisoning. A blood/alcohol reading of .30 is considered potentially fatal and some of those high numbers are being seen.
Young people have been overdosing on alcohol for years and Four Loco is not the first maker to mix stimulants with alcohol, however, they have made it too cheap, too sugary and appealing to underage drinkers, too loaded with stimulants, too big in size and too much stealth in packaging the product. If there is a product that is more shameless in its marketing activities aimed at underage drinkers I am unaware of it. Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org