Headlines this past week have been screaming -- okay, raising their voices slightly -- once again about those dastardly energy drinks. Which you could be drinking right now as you read this, depending on the time of day and your occupation.
This time it's Monster Energy drinks, those 24-ounce jobs especially, that are getting parents agitated. According to WebMD, the FDA is now investigating five recent deaths and a heart attack that survivors say were brought on by drinking too much of Monster's highly caffeinated products.
Of course, the Monster squad says that their products are safe for consumption.
It's the level of consumption that seems to be the link in the deaths. Fourteen-year-old Maryland girl Anais Fournier died in December 2011 after she drank two Monsters in two days, collapsed and succumbed a week later. She also had a pre-existing heart condition, according to reports. She shouldn't have been drinking even a sip of Monster, let alone two full 24-ounce cans.
But teenagers aren't really good at the whole reasoning, personal preservation, common sense thing anyway. Fournier's tale is a sad one, but it didn't have to happen.
My own younger brother has a pulmonary condition that required open-heart surgery when he was an infant, and even 22 years later his doctors remind him that things like Monster can put him in a bad spot. I think the most he can imbibe in is strong iced tea.
Just about two years ago the country was in the grips of demon alcoholic energy drank Four Loko, and I chronicled an afternoon on the garbage for Hair Balls. Jesus, that was really only two years ago?
Monster doesn't have alcohol in it, but adding booze to it will mess you up pretty good, and younger hearts and systems could feel adverse effects from the combination, however fun it might feel to be destroyed on Taaka and blue acidic goo.
What's in a standard Monster? How about all the sugar, ginseng, taurine, L-carnitine, salt, guarana seed and B vitamins you can (not) handle? Makes that coffee in the office break room sound like mother's milk.
Monster on its own is pretty damned nasty, but the truth is, it helps a good portion of our population run. Some convenience stores have it in the fountains next to Pepsi and Mountain Dew even, and I have known people to drink one or two during a 9-5 shift out of sheer necessity.
A lot of people will blame the product and not the user -- AMURRRICAH -- and it wouldn't be too far off base to see Monster having to scale back the magic potion in its cans in the next year after heavy FDA scrutiny.
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No doubt another product will take its place, or another existing energy drink will amp up its recipe to take advantage of the hole in the market. Monster has just been lucky enough to have been on top, er, under Red Bull, for this long.
Warning labels won't help because, well, don't we all remember how much a parental advisory sticker used to help album sales?
Kids, the working adults of America implore you, please refrain from drinking Monsters. They need it to keep the country going. You are too young to truly need the oomph and zoom that Monster gives the nation's commercial drivers, IT staff, security guards, roofers and emergency room nurses.
Stick with Adderall.