The Rise and Fall of Four Loko: A Retrospective

Capri sun, meet your party alter-ego.

Capri sun, meet your party alter-ego.

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.

Can you imagine? Not made from real fruit juice!

Can you imagine? Not made from real fruit juice!

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.

Really good!!

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