Four Loko Bans Represent Government at Its Worst

Modern Drunkard Magazine
Would you eat Hubba Bubba out of this juicer's mouth?
Last Friday, at a prestigious institution in New England, a chemical engineering student named Bob completed a big mid-term and headed straight for his favorite bar, Groucho's Whistlestop on State Street. There, he enjoyed several rounds of his favorite Friday evening cocktail, the Mexican Coffee, consisting of black coffee and tequila, nothing more.

At approximately 10 p.m., Bob returned to his apartment near campus, took off all his clothes, and put on a luchadore wrestling mask. He then walked through a back alley to an all-night diner, sat down naked, pissed on the floor, and ordered a bowl of tapioca pudding before a friend who recognized him succeeded in convincing the proprietor not to call the cops, mopped up his piss, put a jacket on Bob and walked his drunk ass home.

Somehow, Bob's debacle stayed out of the news. He's lucky he wasn't partying in the bustling mountain metropolis of Roslyn, where several Central Washington University students embarked upon a Four Loko drinkathon that would ultimately grab the attention of the highest reaches of American government--which is simply pathetic.

Back to Bob: The particulars of his story represent a composite character; he's "based on actual events," if you will. I can't say for certain whether Bob visited a bar called Groucho's Whistlestop, or if there is a bar called Groucho's Whistlestop. But I can guarantee you that Bob's story played out somewhere. In fact, it probably played out at several somewheres. College kids drink themselves stupid; that's part of what college is for. They also mix booze with some curious non-booze substances, like coffee, to achieve a zanier buzz. So do adults, responsible ones even.

Yet unlike Four Loko, which governments big and small are falling all over themselves to ban, you're not seeing any cries to ban coffee and tequila, because those beverages are as Mexican-American as, well, coffee and tequila. But guarana and taurine in a gangsta-looking tallboy? That's straight ghetto, and the ghetto lobby has been short on legislative achievements of late.

We've been here before. In the mid-aughts, Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser, came out with a precise replica of Four Loko called Tilt. Faced with government pressure, Tilt was eventually stripped of caffeine, guarana and taurine. Yet Tilt lives on; I had two 24-ounce cans yesterday afternoon in the north lot of Husky Stadium. It comes in a variety of fruity flavors and contains 12 percent alcohol. If tastes like a huge piece of Hubba Bubba that Jackie Gleason has just spit into your mouth, and thanks to all the sugar, it gets its consumer just as jacked up as Tilt Original Recipe.

Would politicos have reacted with such vigor absent Four Loko's status as a viral sensation? Probably not. But because they did, they've elevated a once-obscure energy beer to cult status. Four Loko, like Tilt, will persevere and prosper, just sans nuclear horse piss chemicals. We hear the new version goes great with coffee and Red Bull.

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