by Emily Huntington and Kelsey Rowlson
Gross. Tastes nasty. Not that good. Cheap. These are just a few of the words that Whatcom students used to describe Four Loko, the alcoholic energy drink that is spurring controversy around local college campuses and communities.
The Olympian recently reported that Haggen Inc., which operates both Haggen and Top Food and Drug stores in the Pacific Northwest, announced that it will no longer sell Four Loko and Joose alcoholic energy drinks, in part because of recent stories about “nine Central Washington University students who were hospitalized after drinking Four Loko.”
“After studying this issue for some time, we’ve seen consensus build among health experts and law enforcement officials about the public safety risk posed by people consuming beverages with caffeine and above-average alcohol content,” said spokeswoman Becky Skaggs.
Many students said they drank the beverages despite the unpleasant taste. Whatcom student Tara Issacs, 20, said she drinks them sometimes twice a week, even though she thinks that they’re disgusting. “They’re really sweet and nasty,” she said. “But, it gets the job done.”
Another student, 21 year old Katie Titus, agreed that they’re not that good. “They’re kinda bad actually,” she said, “but it’s cheap, convenient, and you can get surprisingly drunk from them.”
William Young, 23, who recently partook in the “Four Loko challenge,” (a game where you drink four drinks in one drinking session) compared the experience to taking a few shots of tequila, in terms of how fast he was affected and what his drunken state felt like. “They’re strong,” he said. “They taste nasty, but the alcohol content is potent.”
So, should the drink be sold in liquor stores, instead of grocery stores and gas stations?
“I don’t think they should sell at all,” said Richard Jogema, 23. “They’re terrible.”
“I won’t ever drink them again…it’s almost hard to drink them.”
Tara Issacs said it doesn’t matter where the drinks are sold. The problem, she believes, is with the packaging. “Right now it markets to a younger crowd,” she said.
Keegan Way, 17, said, the drinks should stay in grocery stores. “The actions of others shouldn’t matter,” he said.
William Young believes they should be moved to liquor stores. The way they are now makes it easier for younger people to get a hold of, and potentially shoplift them, he said.
Katie Titus pointed out that these drinks, like all alcohol, has a surgeon general’s warning and can be sold legally only to people 21 and over.
“I believe it’s people’s careless and irresponsible drinking that leads to these controversies, not the accessibility of the drink,” she said.
-Editor’s note: On Nov. 10, the Washington State Liquor Control Board adopted a new rule banning the sale of alcoholic energy drinks in Washington state. The law takes effect on Nov. 18.