'Mmm-mmm-good.... Who's that on the hood of my car?!' (Photo: ModernFolkHero/Creative Commons)
Subject: High-Alcohol Energy Drink
What the Kids Call It: Black-Out in a Can, Liquid Cocaine
Brand Names: Four Loko and Joose constitute the Axis of Evil in the imbibing underworld. That said, if recent news (see below) is any indication, Four Loko appears intent on cornering the market and claiming the evil crown all for itself.
Nemesis Anatomy: Depending on the brand, the average can has an alcohol content of between 9-12% and usually contains uppers like caffeine, guarana, and taurine.
"Essentially what you have is about a six pack of beer...and five cups of coffee in one of these cans," said Ken Brigs, head of Physical Education and Public Health at Central Washington University, to the Money Times.
What The Nemesis Brings to Your Nervous System: Absolute confusion. When Alcohol the Depressant battles Caffeine the Stimulant for supremacy of your insides, you may predict the bout would end in a draw, but you'd be dead wrong. The caffeine high neutralizes the drunken low. The result? "Wired, wide-awake drunks," according to The Telegraph
Latest Victims: Nine students at Central Washington University were hospitalized on October 8 with alcohol poisoning after reportedly consuming Four Loko at an off-campus party. Back in September, Four Loko laid waste to 23 students over a couple of weeks at Ramapo College in northern New Jersey.
Your eyes might read Four Loko, but your insides register six cans of beer and five cups of coffee. (Photo: GhostDad / Creative Commons)
Most Deplorable Crime: Torture. According to Time, members of the Latin King Goonies, a gang in New York City's South Bronx, recently abducted and tortured three men. The crime scene was littered with cans of Four Loko. "One of the forms of torture to which the gang subjected one of the men—who was attacked for being gay—was forcing him to consume 10 cans of the beverage."
How the Nemesis Lures Its Victims: Colorful, graphic packaging. "I think it's clear they are marketing to young people," said David Schardt, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, to NorthJersey.com.
A Reason Why the Nemesis Is Loved: Bang for buck. The sticker price for one can of Four Loko—remember, that’s roughly equivalent to 5 beers—is usually three bucks.
Another Reason Why the Nemesis Is Loved: Velocity of inebriation. In a text-crazed, Twitter-warped world where teenagers demand that their information be Cliff-noted into 140 or less characters, who has time to sit and drink an entire six-pack?
Nemesis’s Nemesis: Big Brother, though he sure is taking his sweet time. It's been almost a year since the FDA sent 27 letters to companies that manufacturer the beverages, asking them for evidence on the safety of mixing alcohol and caffeine. No findings have been released. "That is still underway," an FDA spokesman told NPR.
Nemesis’s Benedict Arnold: Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. In 2009, these adult beverage behemoths reformulated their caffcahol drinks Sparks, Tilt, and Bud Extra after receiving complaints from some state attorneys general.
Last Minute Nemesis Reprieve: Zero chance. A net needs to be dropped around every liquor store or convenient mart that sells these drinks. Each and every can must be dragged from the premises, fingerprinted, booked, and then relieved of its liquid in the nearest drain.