Type to search


Blackout IN A CAN

Four Loko, a caffeinated malt liquor beverage, is under scrutiny at college campuses around the nation. Created in 2005 by three Ohio State University graduates, this drink is made to allow people to get drunk cheaply and quickly.

Four Loko came into the limelight on Oct. 8 when nine college freshmen from Central Washington University were found passed out in a local supermarket parking lot. According to the police, they had appeared to be passed out from taking drugs. However, upon further review, no drugs had been consumed: Four Loko and other liquors had been, though.

While the website, www.drinkfour.com, requires that a person be of legal age to enter the site, many people believe this drink was made to target underage drinkers. With flavors ranging from Lemon Lime to Brazilian Berry, the drink is made to be flavorful.

Todd Evans, professor of journalism at Drake University, learned about this beverage over the summer after his high school daughter came back from a summer course on the East Coast.

“She said everyone was drinking it up there,” Evans said. “So, I decided to try it. It tastes sweet like Smirnoff [Ice].” He said it was apparent the product is targeted for a young generation because it was so sweet.

A study done at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found that a person’s preference for sweetness declines with age. Therefore, while Four Loko may not appeal to older adults, teenagers and people in their lower 20s may love the sweetness of the product.

Evans said he could feel a noticeable buzz after consuming only one Four Loko. He believes the product has a notion of marketing something that moves someone from buzzed to incapacitated too quickly to notice. It is no wonder why this drink is nicknamed “blackout in a can” nationally. This 23.5-ounce drink is equivalent to four regular-sized beers and two cups of coffee, according to the Four Loko website.

While Four Loko is sold at Kum & Go and other local retailers in Des Moines, it has yet to become the alcohol of choice at Drake. When Evans asked one of his classes about the product, about half had never heard of it, and the other half laughed when he mentioned the name.

In fact, that seems to be the general reaction to the product around most of the campus.

When Tyler Gillmore, a sophomore, was asked about Four Loko, “it’s bad,” was his description. He added that people mostly stick with jungle juice and beer around Drake. To him, things like Four Loko are expensive and dangerous.

Evans believes that alcohol has gone to the extreme on college campuses today. He believes there is no good reason to make a drink so potent, and mix it with caffeine on top of that.

“Let’s just teach our kids it is OK to kill ourselves,” he said. “Why would we want to do this?”

Photo illustration by Connor McCourtney


You Might also Like

1 Comment

  1. michael keim November 3, 2010

    drink responsibly ring any bells? its all up to the consumer how much alchohol he or she ingests. not the company that makes the alchohol. there are several different types of drinks out there just like four loko. i see all different types of people drink them. they all have the same effect. why should four loko be scrutinized? because it was made by college kids? give me a break. there are far more potent drinks out there and i dont see them under a spot light.

Skip to content