Don’t look now, but Four Loko and Joose could be in your grocery store soon.
Both sweetened, high-alcohol products used to include caffeine and were marketed as alcoholic energy drinks until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the kibosh on the practice in December 2010. The manufacturers reformulated the beverages without caffeine and they’re now back on the market.
You’d think Phusion Projects, LLC, maker of Four Loko, would be hurting after a blow like that, but in spite of its cynical marketing and sales of “blackout in a can,” it claims to be doing just fine, thank you.
In a press release, the company said it had “become the best selling [sic] progressive adult beverage in the convenience store channel and one of the fastest growing products in the industry, making Phusion Projects the 11th largest marketer of alcoholic beverages in the U.S.”
I’m not sure what a “progressive adult beverage is,” but the news of the company’s success is plenty depressing, if true. To make matters worse, it says it will introduce Four Loko – with a still-hefty 8 percent alcohol — in 11-oz. glass bottles in “grocery, mass merchandise and drug stores.”
Now that may not sound like a big deal, but here’s the thing. The drink is usually packaged in enormous 23.5-oz, colorful bottles and can be found in convenience stores. Now, you’ll be able to find it at the grocery store – no extra stop needed – and it’ll look like your average bottle of beer (with alcohol content around 4 to 6 percent), yet packing a significantly bigger punch (8 percent).
As Cassie Greisen of Project Extra Mile, an advocacy group based in Nebraska, told the Omaha Herald, “It gives the illusion that you’re not drinking as much alcohol as you are.”
She’s concerned that the fruity flavors and colorful bottles will attract underage drinkers, most of whom binge drink. And based on the track record of Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks – linked as they were to multiple college students hospitalized on more than one campus – that’s a legitimate concern.
Meanwhile, United Brand Company, the maker of Four Loko’s competitor, Joose, isn’t sitting on its hands. Nope – according to this video advertisement for the drink, “great intelligence” (which, the ad tells us, has “no limits”), goes hand in hand with “great innovation.”
Wonder what that innovation might be? (Spoiler alert!) Joose will soon be available in 12-oz. glass bottles, at 8.5 percent alcohol. One can only assume that Joose, too, will be on grocery stores shelves soon.