Livin' la vida Four Loko
November 17th, 2010
11:59 PM ET
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Disclaimer: No editors were harmed in the making of this blog post. ... Except maybe their egos.

In the name of journalism and science, I - or more specifically, my liver - am taking one for the team.

Wednesday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration announced the results of its safety review of caffeinated alcohol drinks, and whether or not to ban them. The announcement came with increasing pressure after a media firestorm erupted in October because nine students at Central Washington University were hospitalized after consuming the caffeinated alcoholic beverage, Four Loko.

According to the the CNN Wire Staff:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the manufacturers of seven caffeinated alcoholic beverages Wednesday that their drinks are a "public health concern" and can't stay on the market in their current form.

"FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is 'generally recognized as safe,' which is the legal standard," Sharfstein told reporters. "To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern."

Thus far, Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, Washington and Utah have taken action to remove the drink from state stores. Eatocracy's own home base of New York will stop receiving shipments of the controversial "blackout in a can" on December 10.

With the impending Food and Drug Administration ban, Phusion Products, the beverage company behind Four Loko released the following statement late Tuesday evening:

Phusion Projects today announced the company’s intent to reformulate its products to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine nationwide, saying it has taken the necessary steps to do so and is informing its employees and distributors of the plans. Going forward, Phusion will produce only non-caffeinated versions of Four Loko.

To fulfill a food editor's morbid curiosity, I decided to turn to Patron Saint Loko - Eddie Huang, the chef of New York City restaurants Baohaus and Xiao Ye. Huang is one of Four Loko's biggest fans, and even announced a Four Loko Happy Hour special - that is, until he was informed "all-you-can-drink specials" were illegal. In any event, he's got a lot of the loot - and willing to share.

From here, we're boldly going down the road less traveled. How will it taste? What are the effects? Check back here later as I blog and video my adventure (under the watchful eye of our managing editor, Kat - safety first!). All I can say is thank god for spell-check.

Update: Why yes, there is video currently being edited, and @sarahletrent has just Tweeted: Four Loko verdict: my brain feels like it's playing Pong. Stay tuned.

four loko

At midnight, approximately seven hours after I set sail on my maiden voyage aboard the SS Four Loko, my resting heart rate is at a mere 103 beats per minute. And yes, this is after a three-hour power nap.

The effects of ingesting the 23.5 ounce can of flavored malt liquor, with an alcohol content of 12 percent, is said to be equivalent to that of drinking three beers and three cups of coffee. This could explain the stark contrast between my current state of palpitation and a woman's normal resting heart rate of a measly 70 to 80 beats per minute.

Wait – what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, Four Loko.

I tried two flavors with Eddie: Blue Raspberry and Fruit Punch. At the sake of losing (more) food writer cred, I'll admit the Blue Raspberry flavor was not nearly as offensive as I had expected. I still wouldn't go out of my way to enjoy it – but hey, it didn't make me gag.

It tastes just as you would expect freshly picked blue raspberries from nature would: blue, razzy, sugar-sweet with a slightly sour bite at the end. If you (A) have a penchant for puréed gummi bears, Sno-cones or Jolly Ranchers, or (B) have the last name "Wonka," this Bud's for you.

On the other hand, the Fruit Punch tasted like a tropical island where dreams go to die. It evoked equal parts Hawaiian Punch and St. Ides, and I could only muster a sip before moving on. Some things aren't worth going loco for.

As I finished my first and sole can, I encountered a slight tingle in my cheeks and the dwindling down attention span of a goldfish. About a half-hour after that, it suddenly felt like the band Sugarcult had taken permanent residence in my cranium - and yes, they were bouncing off the walls again.

I can't go so far to say that I was even drunk, but more wack-a-doodle from caffeine - and this is coming from a girl who chugs coffee on a regular basis. An inebriant? Maybe. A stimulant? Most definitely.

So, would I do it again? Probably not. But in the name of science: I came, I saw, my synapses got conquered.

Editor's note: As a camera-holding witness, I'll attest that Sarah was remarkably composed, and did not at any point seem intoxicated - just a tad caffeinated. And I'm extremely sad that you won't get the see the Dougie-ing that ensued. For it was righteous. - Kat


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soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Jordan

    check out our four loko parody based on the social network trailer. filmed on site at michigan state university by msu students

    December 14, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  2. Tanya

    Black coffee with some cognac is the best European drink.

    November 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  3. sweet p

    Drink responsibly u morons

    November 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  4. jim

    i just think its funney people have no problem with letting the government tell us what we can and cant consume. The blatent sacrifice of civil liberties is kind scairy and offensive, or maybe thats just the veteren in me. Blaming the drink is like saying these kids can be iresponsible and thats acceptible. Might as well ban jager bombs and vodka and redbull while your at it. In fact lets ban everything thats bad for you when not used responibly because, appairently, the majority of americans like not having the freedom of self control.

    November 19, 2010 at 5:36 am |
  5. Cindy Hake

    Think of this as a 750 ml bottle of wine with three cups of coffee and a ton of sugar. Might be a good high for some. But not sensible to chug it all at once or have more than one!

    November 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  6. vegan1-assclown

    i took one the other night to a card game and won big. little drunk/little hyper=playing loose=winning big

    November 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  7. xologist

    I have to say that although it is bad, this article lacks to prove how and the tweets are far from knowledgeable.
    Anyone with a little knowledge of nutrition knows this article barely proves anything. I have to say, that if writing articles to help the ban of an item is as easy as posting lacking so much information, I can ban many market products myself.

    November 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  8. David

    If a 23.5 oz 4 Loko is nearly 2 times the volume (compared to a standard 12 oz beer/bottle) and almost 3x the alcohol (compared to a 4.2% Bud Light), wouldn't it be more like 6 beers in one can?

    Is my math correct? Or is alcohol math different?

    November 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  9. Carmen Magar

    Dang, that sounds dangerous! Way to sacrifice yourself for journalism Sarah! (hope you're well)

    November 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  10. brandon swarthout

    I'm inventing something called FIVE Loko and it has even MORE blackout in it! Here's the real FACTS on the Four Loko conspiracy....This cartoon I made explains it all.

    November 18, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  11. William B. Travis live from The Alamo

    After reading this article I noticed that Oklahoma was one of five states to ban this drink and I must say"Oklahoma couldn't get a BUZZ on even if using THE WORLD'S LARGEST VIBRATOR"! A line is now drawn in the sand.

    November 18, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  12. brandon swarthout

    The real TRUTH about the FoLo conspiracy...


    November 18, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  13. Truth@Jdizz

    Almost time to head home here and make dinner for my bride. Spicy grilled Mahi Mahi over rice tonight. Homemade sugar cookies for dessert and what cookies remain will come to the office tomorrow morning.

    November 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      MMmmm! You should have had these Wasabi Rolls I had the other night. Best sushi I ever had. Tonight? Spicy Eggrolls!

      November 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  14. Truth


    November 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |


      November 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |

        I've seen it posted as late as 5:45 before, though.

        November 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
      • Truth@Jdizz

        Sorry to have of my work applications kicks me automatically into all caps...aNNOYING!

        November 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        X) I don't care. Happens to me. I type on our applications in all caps. Sometimes I forget to switch it off before commenting, look up at the screen and see 3 sentences in all caps. Gets annoying to have to retype it. (yes, I cannot type more than two letters without looking)

        November 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
      • Sarah LeTrent

        5@5 is coming shortly, our loyal patrons! A little technical difficulty, that's all.

        November 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  15. RichardHead@Truth&Jdizz

    At least we know where our fearless leaders are today.A scientific Mission! Hope Kat brought enough Soft pillows along so Sarah doesn't hit her head when she collapses to the ground!

    November 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Hope they were paying attention to the hangover thread from before.

      November 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  16. Truth

    I am curious to see what this is like. As a rule, caffeine and booze and bad combinations. Nothing more annoying than a wide awake drunk. I can see where the college crowd would lap this stuff up though.

    November 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Caffeine has never effected me, I never felt anything odd after downing a few of these that Vitamin V or a cold IPA couldn't simulate.

      November 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • RichardHead

      I have had some of the wprst coffee at truckstops around the 48 states-yet that crap Will keep you teeth grinding awake,hopefully till the next reststop .

      November 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  17. RichardHead

    Thank YOU SLT for NOT having anything about VEGGIES today!

    November 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  18. Jerv

    Jdizz, ever "take one for the team?"

    November 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      All the time.

      My GF loves this stuff. It's ok, especially if you don't want to drink twice as much beer for the same effect. Can only drink a few though, too much sugar/sweet.

      November 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
      • McDrizzle Squarepants

        Is your girlfriend's name JILL? :) Not sayin' nothin, just sayin'.

        November 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants


        I missed the punchline

        November 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
      • clarification

        Not like it is that funny, but hold out your right hand with your palm facing out, or your left with your palm towards you. Your fingers spell out J-I-L-L if you extend your thumb. Get it?

        November 18, 2010 at 11:38 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants



        November 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
    • Voldamane

      No matter what they say, even students try to avoid this stuff. It has a rep for being a hard drink: is a student video that mentions the subject, even if Four Loko itself is not part of the video.

      November 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • Clarry

      I'm retired from railroad-The old timer always drunk coffee laced with liquor. With us young guys we usually didn't
      bring coffee to work. I can't believe the young people took 30 years to catchup.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
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