While some Princeton researchers have been spending their time lately figuring out how cats drink, politicians, doctors, and parents all across the country have been figuring out how students drink. Or rather, what they drink. The finding? Kids these days are drinking to get “loked.”
Unfamiliar with the term? It’s one that Four Loko, the caffeinated malt beverage that’s 12% alcohol by volume (“That’s right, 12%!” Four Loko’s website informs its fans), has done its best to cultivate. As the epic journey of Four Loko appears (are you sitting down?) to be coming to an end, we present to you the rise and fall of the drink lovingly referred to as “blackout in a can.”
2005: Three college friends (naturally) from Ohio State take out a loan to launch Chicago-based Phusion Projects, LLC, a company that manufactures and distributes three products: Four Loko, Four MaXed and Earthquake. They market the drinks as the “new generation” of caffeinated alcoholic beverages – not only potent but imbued with the flavors of freshly-picked fruits.
2008: Four Loko expands its market to the Netherlands. Next stop, Princeton.
2008: Four Loko ranks fourth in sales growth among alcoholic beverages in 7-11 stores across the US.
Things are looking good for the Loko!
Spring 2009: Students at Princeton University start (ironically?) drinking Loko during pregames to amp themselves up for the Street, formal events, and a cappella archsings.
Icing takes off; the Loko remains unfazed.
2010: Four Loko loudly and proudly displays its camo-colors next to wine coolers and Smirnoff Ices in liquor stores in 47 states and Europe.
June 2010: Like Hennesy and Cristal before it, Loko becomes the stuff of rap songs. “Loco for my Loko” is released to YouTube.
July 15, 2010: Four Loko (and Jersey Shore‘s Snooki) hits Staten Island, in a tremendous rebranding effort by Island authorities.
October 1, 2010: Four Loko reaches the Yale scene, continuing what the Yale Daily News calls “its whirlwind romance with college students.”
October 2010: Nine students at Central Washington University are hospitalized after excessive consumption of Four Loko.
And just as a guzzler’s “loke high” typically begins its descent about halfway through a can, so too does the Four’s luck here turn for the worse…
Shortly thereafter: Ramapo College of NJ bans consumption and/or possession of “cocaine in a can” on its campus. Worcester State University stops the sale of energy drinks.
And shortly after that: Salve Regina University, Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Southern Connecticut State University, Sacred Heart University, University of Central Oklahoma,Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Duquesne University, Bryant University, Boston University, Bentley University, Villanova University, Brandeis University and SUNY Cortland all issue warnings to students about the dangers of the drink. University of Rhode Island, Mount St. Mary’s University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology ban it outright. Tops Market, Price Chopper and Wegman’s voluntarily pull the beverage off their shelves.
October 30, 2010: New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni writes about his Four Loko bender; the Loko’s cool factor takes a blow.
Really not so good for the Four…
And then: Four Loko responds because, you know, when consumed responsibly there’s really nothing dangerous about drinking three cups of coffee and five beers. At once. Actually, wasn’t that Hemingway’s preferred mixture?
November 2010: Michigan, Oklahoma, and Utah ban the sale of Four Loko.
November 7, 2010: Courtney Spurry dies in a single-car accident after consuming two cans of Four Loko at a party in Caroline County, Maryland.
November 12, 2010: Eddie Huang serves the Four at his NYC restaurant Xiao Ye. This is the first time the drink is sold at a bar in New York. All respect for the institution gone faster than a “loker’s” judgement.
November 18, 2010: The Washington State Liquor Control Board’s ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages will go into effect.
November 19, 2010: Phusion will stop the shipment of Four Loko into the state of NY.
A budding romance cut short. Take a bow, Four Loko; we barely knew, or remember what happened after we drank, thee. After this last call, it looks like students will just have to resort to the ol’ vod-bomb. And for those truly mourning the loss, you could always just go and buy thirty cases of the stuff.