Four Loko never say die

Earlier this week, several states banned alcoholic drinks containing energy-inducing chemicals such as caffeine, guarana, etc.

Earlier this week, several states banned alcoholic drinks containing energy-inducing chemicals such as caffeine, guarana, etc. In the midst of all this new legislation, everyone’s favorite drink, Four Loko, was also banned outright in several states. Washington was first, followed by New York and Massachusetts, and others are likely to follow suit. Is Oregon next?

For over two years now, Four Loko, a brand of Phusion Projects, Inc., is considered the go-to drink for broke boozers. At around $2.50 a can, it packs more wallop than any other drink out there, something that concerned citizens and lawmakers alike constantly bemoaned.

Up at the Washington State University campus earlier this month, nine students were hospitalized after ingesting too much of the stuff. The students, all between the ages of 17 and 19, were admitted to the hospital, some with potentially lethal blood-alcohol levels. Quick to decide that Four Loko was the culprit instead of horribly irresponsible underage drinkers, legislators leapt into action and slapped Four Loko with a spot on the out-of-touch senior citizen blacklist.

Lawmakers are all of a sudden very interested in Four Loko, to the point where the beverage is making headlines everywhere regarding Phusion Projects alleged “marketing to kids.” Some have even gone so far as to equate Four Loko to Joe Camel, whose face was plastered on everything from magazines and television to can cozies and keychains. The problem with this, of course, is that Four Loko isn’t marketed to anyone other than poor people who want to get drunk.

This whole “uppers and downers” witch-hunt harkens back to the turn of the century, when someone figured out that Red Bull and vodka tastes delicious. Legislators and concerned armchair politicians leapt into action, but their hands were tied—the two entities are entirely separate, entirely legal ventures. Although just as attainable by underage drinkers, where the FDA and state legislators really take offense is the idea that this concoction comes pre-mixed.

Despite the city’s best efforts, Four Loko remains legal in Portland—at least in most places. In the downtown area, the OLCC has been trying to kick the legs out from under Four Loko’s operation. According to a downtown convenience store clerk, not carrying Loko at your establishment comes with a tax break from the state. The clerk, who wishes to remain unidentified, says that the incentive is in place to curb homeless alcoholism. Homeless alcoholism. Not underage drinking.

There are only three places in the entire downtown area that this writer knows of to get Four Loko. They are the Fifth Avenue Market and Deli, Ma and Pa Market and a new convenient location right off campus on Southwest Clay and Park. The stuff is readily available everywhere else.

It is likely that you, the reader, didn’t know that the Park Avenue Market stocked this deliciously near-illegal beverage. However, this vital Loko lifeline to campus will soon dry up when the FDA inevitably bans caffeinated alcohol.

Facebook has been abuzz with Loko fever; a group even exists which stands against Oregon’s imminent Loko prohibition. Search Youtube for Loko and see what pops up. You may find professionally produced music videos about the drink.

Finally, one more thing needs to be said: Loko tastes good. Since I’m asked regularly about the hierarchy of flavor quality, here goes, from worst to best: watermelon, orange, “uva,” blue raspberry, “red,” lemonade, lemon-lime and cranberry lemonade. The answer to your other question: it only takes two. ?