Four Loko: We Investigate Just How Bad It Is (UPDATED With Morning-After Reflections)

The latest bit of juvenile delinquency that has the authorities up in arms is Four Loko, a powerful caffeinated beer that's sending kids to hospitals.

The "powerful" part -- 12 percent alcohol in a 24-ounce can -- gets you wasted, and the "caffeinated" part keeps you up instead of passing out, so you can keep on drinking.

It's a win-win if you're into that.

The bad publicity has gotten widespread enough that, our sister blog in Seattle reports, the company has hired a bigtime PR company to handle things.

What are we dealing with here? We drafted our Craig Hlavaty to drink away and report.

His moment-by-moment breakdown:

4:30 p.m.
I'm 27 years old and I would like to think I have a tolerance for alcohol by now, or at least an appreciation. It usually takes three or four bourbon and sodas to get me buzzed at a bar, four Lone Stars to get the same way.

I just cracked open my first can of Four Loko, the watermelon variety. It tastes like hobo Night Train, or nail polish remover, but I have to finish it. I just pulled up my favorite Prince album in online to soundtrack the first can of Four Loko. The can is half gone and I can't focus on anything.

4:45 p.m.
Social media is weird. I told my friends what I was doing and I forgot that not all my Twitter and Facebook friends know each other. My face feels warm. Can is almost done. I feel like I am in the pod with Darth Vader from Star Wars when I turn my head too quick.

Served in its proper glass
5:00 p.m.

Just opened Can #2, a delightful fruit punch number. I was in the break room getting the can and I remembered how awesome the show


was, with the motorcycle cops. Hell yeah.

In other news, I just called Justin Bieber "sauve, cute, strong" in a tweet. I swear to God I was being sarcastic.

I love Limp Bizkit. I wish I bought a shirt when I saw them in May. Not even being ironic? I just realized I am the assistant music editor at the paper and I may lose scene points for this. My headphones cannot get any louder.

I usually drink a lot at Grand Prize, over off Banks in Montrose, and it usually takes me three hours of hard drinking to feel like this. I wanna tell people off, hug my friends, and eat. Eat what? I don't know, Burger King sounds good. So does Popeye's.

5:15 p.m.
And I just finished can number two.

5:20 p.m.
So if I go get a third can, everyone will laugh at me. But I did dial up Motorhead on the computer. Courage. I love Lemmy.

5:30 p.m.
Just started can number three. It feels like an hour from when I went to the restroom and when I got the third can. I'm really trying to keep it together.

5:35 p.m.
I really like John Mayer. Minutes pass by in an hour. It sucks. Just an hour ago I was on can one.

5:40 p.m.
If I was in high school, after three cans, I would be on True Life talking about the baby I had after I drank three Four Loko. Please, ban this shit. I am a grown man and I feel like Twilight movie. I hope I get married one day. See?

6:05 p.m.
A few minutes of Disney music makes you ornery. The Sea Witch was a bitch for no reason. And the Lion King just makes me miss my dad.

6:15 p.m.
The fourth can is not gonna happen. I wanna throw up so bad. Been listening to Disney music the past hour.

6:25 p.m.
It's nap time.

Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
One down, two to go
10:45 a.m. (the next day)

I woke up last night on the office couch at about 9:30 or so from my "nap" and almost immediately fell down on my ass. Everything was loud, including, what seemed to me, my own breathing and walking. Loud noises were not my friend. I wanted earplugs.

I came back to my desk and tried to take one sip of the last of the third can and almost vomited on my desk. The nail polish smell was almost to much and all I wanted was water or food. Something greasy and bad for me. A burger. A Thanksgiving ham. Anything.

I drank three cans of Four Loko, three different varieties, watermelon, grape, and fruit punch, all within roughly two hours. A lot of folks said I was overdoing it but if you are in the daredevil mindset of someone under the age of 20, you could care less about your limits. They are there to be tested. Any teen would drink that much if given the chance. I was a kid once too.

I am a 27-year-old male, and have some meat on my bones, and three cans put me in the ground, so to speak. My body mass was thrown to the wind by the drink, and immediately went to work on my sanity. I drink almost every night socially, and I can say that the Lokos were not as kind as a few whiskeys and beers. At least when I drink a multitude of those I can sleep, or at least be coherent.

After waking up at nine or so, I could not sleep until almost 6 a.m this morning. I stayed up dizzy and partially drunk, watching old cartoons like She-Ra and He-Man, and a few episodes of The Cosby Show with my eyes glazed over. Sleep was not an option.

I will say now that this stuff should not be taken off the market. At the least it should have its alcohol content taken down from the husky 12 percent it is now. That's not me begging for more Loko, that's just me being a realist. I can see folks having fun with this stuff, just like the Sparks craze a few years back. When the Sparks people downgraded their recipe, there were not so many problems and uproars after.

Oh, and sorry for sharing so much of my personal life, I tend to turn into Taylor Swift when I get drunk. My friends on Twitter definitely got an afternoon matinee for their drive time commute. As for the Limp Bizkit love, that's all on me. Keep on rolling, baby.

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