In defense of Four Loko

Tim Gillis
Journal Staff

With all of the negative media aimed at getting rid of Four Loko, it is becoming harder to defend the drink more every day. In case you haven’t heard, Four Loko is an alcoholic beverage that contains about the same alcohol content as a six pack of beer. This may not sound like much, but when 135 milligrams of caffeine are added to the mix, things can get a little wild by the end of the night. As of late, people have been trying to make the beverage illegal because of how many individuals have been hospitalized after drinking it. But is it the Four Loko that causes the danger, or could it maybe be the way they are consumed?

A single Four Loko is about the same size as an Arizona Iced Tea: 23.5 ounces of drink. The New York Times has called the drink, “liquid cocaine” and it has also been nicknamed “black out in a can.” The idea for Four Loko was thought up by three Ohio State alumni: Jaisen Freeman, Jeff Wright, and Chris Hunter. These three have taken serious heat recently because of the growing number of hospitalizations that were caused by their drink. Despite many incidents – one of the biggest coming from Washington University, where nine students were hospitalized after drinking Loko – the three owners still stand by their product. And although many “anti-Loko-ers” out there will disagree with me, Freeman, Wright, and Hunter put up a good argument.

Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol per volume. There are beers that have much higher concentrations; Sam Adams Utopias MMII has double the alcohol by volume with a staggering 24 percent. Hunter stated that Four Loko, “contains only as much caffeine as a single Starbucks’ coffee,” which is true. A small brewed coffee from Starbucks contains 180 milligrams of caffeine.

What’s more is that Four Loko wasn’t even the main factor in the incident at Washington University, even though it was blamed for it. There were also large amounts of vodka, rum, and beer at the party as well. So if these things are true, then what is sending so many people to the hospital?

The answer, in my opinion, is pretty obvious. The drinks are what you make of them; what matters is how they are consumed. It’s common sense. A pint of vodka will put you in a hospital bed too if you chug the whole bottle quick enough. I’ve witnessed kids drink two entire Lokos in a matter of minutes, and then complain about how they blacked out after. I myself have drank two Four Loko’s in one night and did not end up in a hospital bed because I took my time with them. And don’t get me wrong here, I’m not a fan of Four Loko; I think they taste disgusting and are too syrupy.

It is unfair for these three entrepreneurs to experience their entire business being shut down because people drink their products irresponsibly. It is being banned like wildfire to protect people, but it isn’t like people don’t come back for more. The unofficial Facebook page for Four Loko has more than 38,000 fans and that number will continue growing, ban or no ban.   Consequences come with every action, and banning a product that many people love just because others abuse it just doesn’t seem right. This is America, right?

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One thought on “In defense of Four Loko

  1. Beyond this, it often escapes the media that the students in the Washington incident were between the ages of 17 and 19, all under the legal limit. Four Loko is clearly being attacked, but where is the uprise against the local, state, and federal governments for not enforcing the law. “Underage kids drink” is a maxim at the tip of so many politicians tongues. Unfortunately, it is the government who has failed here, not an energy drink.