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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Drink Tue Oct 26 2010

Four Loko, Collegiate Party Peril

fourloko.jpgFour Loko, a high-alcohol energy drink manufactured by Chicago-based Phusion Projects, is facing bans at college campuses across the country after nine freshmen at Central Washington University were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.

If you miss the good old days of Sparks, Four Loko may be for you. The product line combines malt beverage with energy drink ingredients such as caffeine, taurine and guarana — but unlike Sparks, Four Loko comes in a wide variety of flavors, from lemon-lime to watermelon. And at 12 percent alcohol by volume (24 proof), it contains twice as much alcohol as Sparks (a secondary line, Four MaXed, contains 10 percent alcohol). Four Loko retails for around $2.50 for a 23.5 ounce can.

Phusion has released two statements regarding the Washington incident, noting that Four Loko was mentioned in the police report among many other alcoholic drinks, including beer, vodka and rum, and that there is no indication from the police report whether any of the students were of legal drinking age.

After reviewing the police report myself, I would guess that Four Loko has been singled out as the culprit in this case because it was the first of only two brand names mentioned by name in the report; the other was Corona. That said, the likelihood is high that anyone drinking Four Loko at the party had no idea what they were consuming was two to three times stronger than beer, nor that the energy drink ingredients might mask the effects of the alcohol.

While I am not in favor of banning this or any other alcoholic energy drink, I do see how Four Loko and similar products are a major concern on college campuses. College is the time when many people experiment with alcohol for the first time, and is therefor already a time when over-consumption (intentional or accidental) and abuse is high. Add a highly drinkable, deceptively potent option to the mix -- priced at a point even a broke college student can afford -- and it's easy to see where things could go wrong.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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