Following reports that the FDA will effectively ban the sale of alcoholic drinks with caffeine the makers of Four Loko have announced that they are removing all caffeine, taurine, and guarana from their drinks. So people across the country will still be able to buy 23.5 ounces of highly alcoholic malt liquor that tastes like a combination of cherry chap-stick and jolly ranchers, and I guess will have to buy an extra bottle of an energy drink to get the full experience. Which just proves that all the political grand standing and exaggerated outrage really didn't solve anything.
Phusion Projects announced the reformulation late last night in a press release:
Phusion Projects today announced the company's intent to reformulate its products to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine nationwide, saying it has taken the necessary steps to do so and is informing its employees and distributors of the plans. Going forward, Phusion will produce only non-caffeinated versions of Four Loko.
In a statement, Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, Phusion's three co-founders and current managing partners said:
"We have repeatedly contended - and still believe, as do many people throughout the country - that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe. If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced."
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The move echoes similar steps taking by Sparks, an alcoholic energy drink that removed caffeine from its formula following political pressure years ago.
What exactly does this solve? Uh, not much. Alcohol and caffeine are still both widely available. Our exaggerated embrace of the cafecito and Cisco cocktail, a (hopefully never actually consumed) mix of highly caffeinated Cuban coffee and a "bum wine" with as much as 18% alcohol, just proves that such mixtures are still possible.
The problems often associated with Four Loko -- youthful binge drinking and drunk driving -- will not magically disappear either. Maybe if people would have redirected half their ire to those problems with the same intensity that surrounded Four Loko we might have made some head way. Instead the idea of mixing caffeine and alcohol probably only got a little more enticing for dumb kids looking to be as dumb as possible.
Expect a whole lot of people binging on the original formulation of Four Loko while it's still available. Hell, we've already seen invites for Four Loko memorial parties on Facebook.