Another State and Another CBS Station Go Loco Over Four Loko

What is it with CBS affiliates and Four Loko? Yesterday I noted that two CBS stations (in Baltimore and Philadelphia) were reporting that the caffeinated malt beverage drives people insane. Now WBZ, the CBS station in Boston, uncritically regurgitates the following nonsense, attributed to officials at the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (MABCC): "They say the product is really not a malt liquor, but a much more potent form of hard liquor, like vodka."

If state regulators declared that the moon is not really made of rock but is in fact composed of yellowish-blue pressed curd, would WBZ also pass that claim on without comment? Vodka is a distilled spirit that typically has an alcohol content of 40 percent by volume. Four Loko, by contrast, is a fermented malt beverage with an alcoholic content of 12 percent (similar in potency to wine). The term malt liquor applies to malt beverages with a relatively high alcohol content (usually 6 percent to 9 percent). Massachusetts law defines malt beverages as "all alcoholic beverages manufactured or produced by the process of brewing or fermentation of malt, with or without cereal grains or fermentable sugars, or of hops, and containing not more than twelve per cent of alcohol by weight." Since alcohol-by-weight numbers rise when converted to alcohol-by-volume numbers (by around 25 percent at relatively low concentrations), Four Loko is comfortably below the state's potency limit for malt beverages. Yet according to the MABCC by way of WBZ, Four Loko is "a form of hard liquor," except that it is not distilled and has the strength of wine.

Wait, there's more:

Consider this, 80 percent of the young people arrested for underage drinking in the past two weeks had this product on them.

Arrested where? In Boston? Statewide? Nationwide? According to whom? How often did "young people" have beer on them? Assuming this number is not pulled out of thin air, might the brightly colored, conspicuously large Four Loko cans, combined with all the publicity about the product generated by hysterical news outlets such as WBZ, attract disproportionate police attention?

It is not clear from WBZ's account, which says the MABCC plans to ban Four Loko as of Monday, how many products would be affected by the new rule. "Most people know it as Four Loko," WBZ says, "but there are actually 55 products like it with different names." Presumably that is a reference to the 55 products on Michigan's list of newly forbidden "alcohol energy drinks," which includes several products that do not really qualify for that label, such as a craft beer brewed with yerba maté, a Jack Daniel's Country Cocktail, and a "hard" iced tea that no longer exists. According to a November 12 MABCC advisory  (PDF), the commission "has initiated an evaluation of alcohol beverage products in Massachusetts that are commonly referred to as 'alcohol energy drinks.'" It mentions Four Loko and Joose.

Kim Gainesboro, chairman of the MABCC, tells WBZ:

We are concerned about consumer protection. We are concerned that people who are drinking these alcoholic beverages are not aware of the ingredients which are contained in them.

If only there were some way for consumers to learn the ingredients which are contained in these alcoholic beverages.

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  • ||

    Can we end this "Loko Madness" already?

    /nanny state

  • The FDA, ATF, and DEA||

    It's called job security, although I do like the sound of "Loko Madness". Do you mind if we borrow that term for our next round of government propaganda?

  • ||

    You simply have to be a little crazy to drink this slop...Guinness, anyone?

  • ||

    Go with Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. At 13% ABV, it kicks Loko's ass both in terms of flavor AND alcohol.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    13%? Ha, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA laughs at your puny ABV.

  • ||

    Yeah, but Bourbon County Stout is so much better than 120 Minute. I actually prefer 90 Minute myself... it's more balanced.

  • omg||

    DFH World Wide Stout also looks down on Goose Island's diminutive 13%.

  • Expat to Be||

    Can we please stop how awesome DFH is, just in case the government overhears us?
    While I am standing strong against the government coming after Four Loko, I absolutely could not tolerate living here without my DFH, in all its varieties.

  • Amakudari||

    Gosh, 18%? And it's good? I gotta try that when I'm back in the States.

    Also, here's to pushing the envelope too far.

  • Jason||

    Although it's a whiskey, not a beer.

    It's freeze distilled.

  • Ben||

    Their Honker's Ale is seriously excellent - nice English-style bitter. Plus, I get to say "give me a honker" to the bartender, which sounds dirty.

  • ||

    I'm thinking I should stock up on Guinness before Ireland goes tits up.

  • waffles||

    Nah, InBev would buy them.

  • ||

    Ireland?

  • JD||

    I really hope not. The acquisition of Guinness by InBev would really be a problem for me since I've been personally boycotting InBev since 2005 due to their support of the Brazil gun ban referendum.

  • omg||

    You're fine. Guinness is contract brewed on this side of the pond. If Ireland got nuked, and I were in charge of that contract brewery, I'd just keep churning the stuff out and keep all the profits for myself.

  • Joe M||

    Clearly, the next step will be to outlaw Red Bull, and the next step after that will be to outlaw mixed drinks that contain caffeine, such as bourbon and coke.

    I predict a surge in vodka sales, since it mixes well with tonic, soda, or 7-up, all of which are caffeine free.

  • ||

    I'm assuming the MABCC will be outlawing Irish coffee, as well.

    Just guessing, here, but I would bet that, ounce for ounce, a good Irish coffee has more caffeine and more alcohol than 4Loko, Joose, or the like.

  • ||

    ""I'm assuming the MABCC will be outlawing Irish coffee, as well.""

    Yeah. If you ask the MABCC about the what's in an Irish coffee, they will probably say Irish, and coffee. They seem clueless.

  • Tulpa||

    Actually, they should restrict all "precursors" to Irish coffee like they've done with meth ingredients.

  • Expat to Be||

    Clerk: "Show me your ID, and, oh yeah, you need a prescription for that."

    Consumer: "For my coffee and the filters?!?!?!"

    *clerk points to government required sign

  • ||

    ""We are concerned that people who are drinking these alcoholic beverages are not aware of the ingredients which are contained in them.""

    What a stupid statement. That is the reason people buy them.

  • Rich||

    This. And after consumption, people are *highly* aware.

  • ||

    We are concerned that people who are drinking these alcoholic beverages are not aware of the ingredients which are contained in them.

    Maybe they are referring to the state of reading comprehension of those who buy the stuff (i.e. high school and college students). Instead of banning the drinks, there should be a reading comprehension test before the transaction can be completed.

  • Byron||

    Uh...no, there should not.

  • ||

    What is it with CBS affiliates and Four Loko?

    Profits are to be found in exploiting the fear and ignorance of the general populace.

  • Spartacus||

    Why does one of the cans say 12% alcohol and the other 11%? Both say "alc/vol", so I assume both are by volume.

  • ||

    I peed in the can on the right when nobody was looking.

  • IceTrey||

    "If only there were some way for consumers to learn the ingredients which are contained in these alcoholic beverages."

    YA! Maybe like some kind of a label. They could even print it on every can. Oh, that will never happen.

  • waffles||

    but I only bought this because I thought it could kill me. I knew what was in it. I suspect most purchasers do too.

  • Joe Zilch||

    ""We are concerned that people who are drinking these alcoholic beverages are not aware of the ingredients which are contained in them.""

    That's the best indictment of public education, when bureaucrats say that the people are too stupid to read the side of a can and know what it a) says, b) means and c) will do to them.

    Leave 4Loko alone and let's get to the "root" of the problem. Why are people too stupid in spite of billions being spent to edumakate them?

  • CBS Affiliate||

    Why are people too stupid in spite of billions being spent to edumakate them?

    It's that accursed Four Loko!

  • ||

    We are concerned that people who are drinking these alcoholic beverages are not aware of the ingredients which are contained in them.

    Thus refuting every nanny's favorite mandate, for labelling.

    Since its apparently pointless, can we do away with the whole mandatory labelling thing?

  • Fluffy||

    That is so unadulterated bullshit.

    Their real problem is that people know exactly what's in these drinks and they don't like the way they're being marketed, and that people respond to that marketing and buy the product.

    I'd hate these fuckers anyway for trying to ban products [like that rat bastard Schumer, who was out there today demanding the FDA ban them nationwide] but I hate them twice as much because of all the fucking lying.

  • waffles||

    makes me ask why is it not okay to markey malt liquor as "it will get you fucked up"?

  • ||

    You'll be fuckin' fat girls in no time.
    You might fight a nigga or two.
    Hmmmmm

  • ||

    Are you saying there's some other reason that they aren't going after the producers of the 30 year-old scotch that a bank president stuffed himself with, before performing a controlled flight into a tree?

  • Jason||

    Now why would regulators (presumably Democrats) want to ban products just consumed by poor folk?

  • ||

    Personally, I'll stick to drinking boxed wine out of a Diet Coke can...

  • T||

    You're joking, right? Please tell me that's a joke.

  • Rich||

    He's joking.

    It's a Diet Dr. Pepper can.

  • ||

    Don't worry, he passes it through a styrofoam cup filter first.

  • ||

    Oh come on... I know there are other "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fans 'round these parts. Episiarch, back me up on this!

  • mr simple||

    This isn't an intervention against good ideas.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Got here late. I was setting up the grill in the U-Haul.

  • ||

    I hope you didn't waste time taping down the grill legs. Here's a tip: just make sure the back door is lower than the top of the grill and you'll be fine.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It can't beat SunnyD and Rum.

    Yum yum.

  • Daze||

    Usually this level of panic would make me eager to try some, but this stuff really does sound gross.

    But I'll defend to the death your right to drink it and puke freely.

  • ||

    Agreed. Hell, go ahead and kill yourself. None of my business. Just leave me out of it.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, I want to buy some just to support them for all the bullshit they're taking. I just don't know if I could bring myself to actually drink it, and I'm not particularly fussy about beers.

    The stuff has "2 day hangover" written all over it. Maybe I'll just buy some and hand it out to the kids down the street.

  • ¢||

    Profits are to be found in exploiting the fear and ignorance of the general populace.

    I guess. But in any specific case like this, the media is trading state-directed coverage for, uh, future considerations.

    The truly odd part of the story is Michigan's prominence in it. Centers of mass hysteria like NYC and Massachusetts are always inventing witches to hunt, but Michigan? What happened there? They go ratbag, and—last gasp?—this happens? WTF?

  • ||

    ""Profits are to be found in exploiting the fear and ignorance of the general populace.""

    Defense industry post 9/11?

  • Kolohe||

    Ike was saying basically the same thing before the the WTC was even thought of.

  • ||

    It gets renewed every generation or two.

  • ||

    Well, it doesn't work as well if you use it more often.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    "...This just handed to me;100% of bad things that happen to kids is the direct result of Four Loko being legal. This piece of paper I was just handed appers to have a stamp from some department of something or other so I'm just gonna take their word for it and not bother thinking. And now sports..."

  • aeronathan||

    One of the local stations here in Huntsville, AL is also picking up on it.

    Oh noes, you can now buy pre-mixed what you used to have to mix yourself. We should ban red bull and vodka next...

  • ||

    If I were king, the sum total of my response to the Four Loko Menace would be: "If you drink this crap, you deserve whatever happens to you. Smarten up."

  • ||

    This. I always viewed malt liquor and the like as self correcting devices.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I still maintain that Mickey's Big Mouth is not a bad drink.

  • Ted S.||

    Zima. Because zhit happens.

  • Mad Scientist||

    This sort of B.S. is exactly the reason why the dipshits who run alcohol control boards have no business doing anything of the sort. In turn, those dipshits are the reason why alcohol control boards shouldn't even exist. My god, Massachusetts has a state law which defines what is and what is not malt liquor? I've never drank 4 Loko and I imagine it tastes like ass, but jesus, if someone likes the taste of ass, what in the hell is the problem?

  • Jow Biden's Sweaty Nut Sack||

    I tasted ass once. We can't allow people to make the same mistakes people as dumb as me make. For their own good or teh childrun or something like that. And alcohol is bad anyway because I don't drink it even though my preferred form of transportation is famous for the bar car. Tonic water for everyone! Wheeeeeeeee!

  • Barney Frank||

    I completely agree.

  • TheOtherSomeGuy||

    Just a quick check, but you can still die from drinking too many shots of straight whiskey and vodka, right?

    I just want to make sure that it's the perfectly legal and non-targeted alcohol, not the other stuff, that is killing people.

  • John Bonham||

    Drinking many shots of vodka is fine. Just don't puke when you're passed out. Trust me on this one.

  • Bon Scott||

    I know what you mean.

  • Jimi Hendrix||

    What he said.

  • Keith Moon||

    No argument here.

  • Jim Morrison||

    And if you constantly drink to excess, you don't need to puke to have problems.

  • Janis Joplin||

    Especially if you mix it with heroin.

  • Heath Ledger||

    Personal experience tells me it's probably a good idea to also stay away from the pharmaceuticals.

  • Kurt Cobain||

    Though in some cases pharmaceuticals are a really good idea.

  • Kurt Cobain||

    And Courtney Love too

  • Warty||

    Fuck, Four Loko sounds more awesome by the day. I'd better get shitfaced on this vile swill while I still can.

  • ||

    Just make sure someone is there to roll you on your side. Of all the people I'd like to see choke to death on their own vomit, you are like 63rd on the list.

  • waffles||

    I'd like to see this list, it seems thorough.

  • Warty||

    Fuck, I'm not even in the top 50? I'm gonna break into your house and steal your cat or something.

  • prolefeed||

    That is perhaps the edgiest term of endearment I've heard all year, SF.

  • ||

    You should drink it while also taking "real" Sudafed, to get that thrill of living on the edge.

  • Wheezy||

    At least, while using a Benzedrex inhaler.

  • waffles||

    I saw someone eat one of those once. I think he turned into a robot and killed his sister who was also a robot. We can ban this too?

  • Amakudari||

    Still plenty o' time. The only bans and pending bans are in the shittiest states in the Union anyway.

    One night I chugged 1 1/2 FourLokos. I woke up at home like normal. On my bank statement showed I went to 6 bars that night ten miles away. I don't own a car.

    i drank 6,ate some chinese then went to work in the morning.im an alcoholic.you guys are pussies.

    Had 2 four lokos and 8 shots...went up stairs puked in the girl's room sink then lie down on her bed...girl comes in the room and starts hooking up with me and doesnt notice that i had puked in her sink. My frined comes in the room doesnt notice me hooking up with her and goes in the bathroom i puked in and throws up everywhere in it. Both throw ups in her bathroom were blamed on him and the girl never knew i threw up. i love four loko

    Did a four loko power hour which amounted to about 3 in 50 mins went out to the back porch of my fraternity to smoke some hookah, the next thing I remember is waking up in my 9:30 am class with one shoe taking rather illegible notes. I hadn't been to this class in over 2 weeks my blackout self apparently is an academic.

    I had four four lokos and next thing i knew, I was in a hospital with food poisoning from eating a whole package of raw chicken breast

    Apparently, this beverage turns people into superheroes.

  • EJM||

    ...(and Another CBS Station)...

    It's worse than that: WJZ, KYW, and WBZ are all CBS O&O's that were owned by the old Group W. Only KPIX and KDKA remain to be heard from.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I get KDKA. I'll keep my eye on the news tonight to see if they have a story.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I'd imagine it's going to be 25 minutes on Jeff Reed

  • Tulpa||

    Seriously, what is it with Steelers getting into trouble in bathrooms?

    Tomlin should make a team rule that they have to wait till they get home to go.

  • waffles||

    Fuck Jeff Reed. But yeah, that's the news 'round here.

  • Jason||

    Hmm... are they affiliated with a rival to Four Loko?

  • Butts Wagner||

    I couldn't find it, but there was a quote in one of the Boston Globe stories about Four Loko today saying that Four Loko has as much caffeine as 2-3 cups of coffee(something much greater than 1. Like I said, I can't find the exact quote again).

  • ||

    I also heard that if you drink it, your chances of being attacked by a shark during the summer months go up 100%.

  • Wheezy||

    I also heard that if you drink it, your chances of being attacked by a shark during the winter months go up 10000%.

  • mr simple||

    I hear it got a girl pregnant and wouldn't let her buy Plan B.

  • Butts Wagner||

    When Chuck Norris wants to sober up, he drinks Four Loko.

  • Rich||

    LOL

    What about The Most Interesting Man in the World?

  • ||

    Irish Coffee, duh. Made with a fine Arabica slowly roasted by Spanish nuns for 42 years.

  • Tulpa||

    If they're talking about decaf, that is correct.

  • Spartacus||

    If they really want college students to quit drinking it, they should just start claiming that it causes impotence. Which is more plausible than most of the shit they've been spewing.

  • ||

    That's actually not a bad idea for attacking the heavy use of alcohol in general.

  • cynical||

    Sure, most college students are strongly interested in knocking someone up and caring for a baby.

  • Fluffy||

    I think you're confusing impotence and sterility.

  • cynical||

    Fuck me, I am.

  • Ray Pew||

    Does anyone know what the actual mg/servings of caffeine and taurine are in these? I can't find any specifics.

  • Paul||

    Mr. Sullum, with all due respect, most journalism approaches stories from an entertainment perspective.

    That is all.

  • Masshole on WBZ||

    Awl yoah alcohawls owah belawng to us. Ya prick.

  • Ben||

    This is why, as a Boston resident, I never, ever watch the news. It's pretty much 100% shit.

  • prolefeed||

    All these posts about caffeinated alcoholic drinks made me want to try a good one, so I bought a six pack of Kona Brewing Company's Pipeline Porter brewed with Kona coffee. Mmmmmmm, good stuff!

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