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  |   December 27, 2010    8:58 AM ET

I recalled a NY Times article about the deep south specialty that is the Kool Aid Pickle. Kool Aid pickles are your normal kosher dills that have been steeped in sugary Kool Aid brine. Supposedly, the pickles come out with an addictive sweet/sour tang, and the added bonus of having absorbed the garish color of your chosen Kool Aid flavor. It seemed to me that the Four Loko might be a good analogue for the Kool Aid in this recipe, only with more alcohol and caffeine.

Four Loko Evangelist for Six Months: A Rogue Strategist Takes to the Streets

  |   December 21, 2010    8:10 AM ET

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Four Loko Enthusiast Gets His Own TV Show

Grace Green   |   December 8, 2010   11:51 AM ET

New York Chef Eddie Huang is determined to make a comeback after his Four Loko fame and misfortune, when boasting about Four Loko drink specials got his restaurant closed down for good.

For now, Huang is back working full time at his first restaurant, Baohaus . But for all his bombast and controversial antics, he is getting his own television show. Huang will be working with High Noon Entertainment (who also produce Cake Boss) but Eater notes that the show will be less focused on his Four Loko fueled reality and more of a personality-driven food program like Bizarre Eats or No Reservations.

Reports Eater:

The chef tells us that he's stoked for the new project, as it will also allow him to stay in the kitchen at BaoHaus while exploring the greater world of food and restaurant culture, a passion he's always made apparent on his blog.

Alcohol Energy Drinks: There's More You Should Know

Lloyd I. Sederer, MD   |   December 6, 2010    8:09 AM ET

Alcohol energy drinks are a combination of alcohol and an energizing soft drink with lots of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants (like guarana, taurine and ginseng). Sort of a toned down version of speed mixed with the disinhibiting effects of alcohol.

These drinks, often called Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages (CABs), have become exceptionally popular, to the detriment of too many youth, who are now appearing in Emergency Departments around this country and the world. According to the U.S. Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 25 brands of CABs; the leading two experienced a 67-fold sales increase from 2002 (when marketing started doing its job) until 2008.

Not only do these drinks have mega doses of caffeine (two to seven times that of a Coke or Pepsi), and other stimulant additives, the amount of alcohol can be twice or more than that of a bottle of beer; beer is 4 to 5 percent alcohol while the CABs may have up to 12 percent. Dehydration from the diuretic effects of caffeine and alcohol make the impact on the brain of both drugs even greater. The stimulants in the beverage can mask the effects of alcohol so the drinker does not feel as tired or woozy and can believe he or she is fine to drive. Judgment is significantly impaired and alcohol poisoning (overdose) or risky or aggressive sexual behaviors can result.

CAB drinkers are three times more likely to binge drink. Binge drinking (five or more drinks at a setting for a man and four or more for a woman -- usually within two hours) is associated with 40,000 deaths in this country and is especially prevalent among young people. Some colleges have banned CABs from their campuses. Alcohol abuse is the gateway to prescription drug abuse, the fastest growing form of drug abuse in the United States.

A public education campaign has begun about the dangers of CABs. Did you know what is in them or the health and safety problems they present? Are you watching out for your friends or children so that they don't drink and drive when loaded with a CAB? Or that one CAB can be the equivalent of several beers, and then some? Families and friends can deliver a message of concern and protection -- if you don't who will? Doctors, nurses and other health professionals who come in contact with youth should not be shy about asking questions and giving information; the white coat still carries quite a bit of authority. Colleges and universities can make CABs a primary health issue on their campuses.

The mounting use and ill effects of these drinks led the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse to issue two advisories (see links below) -- one for professionals and one for those imbibing themselves (or others with influence). These advisories offer important additional details about what can be done about the wave of CABs hitting the shores of communities everywhere.


http://nyhealth.gov/community/youth/development/docs/2010-12-02_oasas_doh_cab_health_advisory.pdf

http://nyhealth.gov/community/youth/development/docs/2010-12-02_oasas_doh_material_cabs_for_colleges.pdf

The opinions expressed herein are solely my own as a psychiatrist and public health advocate.

Dr. Sederer receives no support from any pharmaceutical or device company.

Visit Dr. Sederer's website at www.askdrlloyd.com - for questions you want answered, reviews and stories.

All I Want for Christmas Is for Justin Bieber to Try a New Haircut (Among Other Things)

  |   December 3, 2010   10:08 AM ET

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Jonah Green   |   December 1, 2010    5:46 PM ET

You would think we were done writing about Four Loko -- we did, too. But we, and you, were wrong.

The inevitable is upon us: in light of the Four Loko ban, compiled with the media frenzy around the drink that nobody likes, there is now a 'bidding war' on the remaining cans of Four Loko in New York. People are stockpiling and selling the drink, which normally retails for $2.99 a can, for up to $8 a can on Craigslist.

Sellers are hawking the neon cans as "collectors' items":

These are sold as-is, new, and unopened (contents are still inside the cans). Because of the contents of these collectors' items, buyer must be verified to be 21 years of age or older, no exceptions.

The Daily News profiles one such seller, marvelously.

"I was like, I got to get rid of these, I can't have these around," said Phil, 26 and unemployed. "That stuff is really a menace. Everything's going fine and then it hits you like a ton of bricks and you don't remember the rest of the night."...

Phil bought the Four Loko in New Jersey for $2.50 each and is selling them for $5.

Asked how he plans to spend the profits, Phil said: "I'll use the money to replace the shoes that I threw up on."


Four Loko Claims The Life Of Lower East Side Restaurant

Jonah Green   |   December 1, 2010    9:03 AM ET

Remember Eddie Huang? A month ago, when slamming Four Loko was all the rage among politicians and lawmakers, he flouted convention by offering an all-you-can-drink Four Loko night at his restaurant, Xiao Ye. Turns out, that was illegal. So he persisted in his quest and had $3 Four Loko deal instead, even boasting about it vehemently on Twitter.

The killjoys at NBC New York went undercover to see how crazy his Four Loko night would get, and found something unlike any other bar in the city: "We never observed the bartender or servers asking for ID when people ordered drinks and the party did get eventually get a little out of hand."

That night the State Liquor Authority raided the bar and dispensed of all the Four Loko. They would come back at least three times in the ensuing weeks, issuing a fine each time.

Reports Eater:

Although they did not lose their liquor license, the threat was looming, and so Huang in conjunction with his partner decided it would be best to sell the restaurant space for fear of having to continue to operate without a liquor license.

  |   November 30, 2010    6:37 PM ET

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The New Four Loko?

Leah Finnegan   |   November 29, 2010   11:02 AM ET

It goes by the name Whipahol, "Whipped Lightning" or Get Whipped and comes in seemingly innocuous flavors, like white chocolate raspberry and cinnamon. But a can of alcoholic whipped cream -- that's right, alcoholic whipped cream -- has the alcohol content of three beers and it's causing concern on college campuses. But are students keen on the idea of getting drunk off of a dairy product? Fox 25 reports below.

Have you tried Whipahol? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

WATCH:

  |   November 24, 2010    3:33 PM ET

When the Food and Drug Administration deemed Four Loko and other caffeinated alcoholic beverages unsafe, Dennis Roberts saw a business opportunity.

The 23-year-old Roberts and two of his friends are the entrepreneurs behind LegalizeLoko.com, a site dedicated to selling "Legalize Loko" T-shirts and other merchandise.

  |   November 22, 2010    9:32 AM ET

In this clip, Fieri shares some of his boozy Thanksgiving dishes, including the turduckenrabpigcowcowhorsishgamehen, which is a "chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey inside of a rabbit inside of a pig inside of a baby cow inside of a big cow inside of a horse all stuffed into a Cornish game hen." And then deep-fried in Jägermeister?

Caffeinated Booze: Bad News for Bad Brews

David Katz, M.D.   |   November 20, 2010   11:26 AM ET

The writing would seem to be on the wall for Four Loko and other beverages that combine alcohol and caffeine, as the FDA considers an outright ban of the combination. Anyone who is for sanity and safety in marketing should read it and cheer, not weep.

Combining alcohol and caffeine is -- in one word -- crazy. Don't do it! It has an excellent chance of hurting you, and a fairly good chance of killing you. Recent news reports feature tragic victims of this deadly duo. As the companies and federal authorities decide what to do, you can make up your own mind to steer clear of this bad brew.

As I suspect everyone knows, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It is certainly possible to drink enough alcohol for it to be lethal, and people have. But the depressant effect tends to limit the damage, because people fall asleep or pass out before they reach a truly lethal level of intake. Alcohol is more likely to kill by impairing judgment, and responses behind the wheel of a car. But here, too, the intrinsically sedating effects of alcohol help limit these incident, which are horribly too numerous as is.

Caffeine, of course, is a central nervous system stimulant. We use it to help stay awake and alert, and it exerts just this effect even as you drink alcohol. But caffeine does nothing at all to combat the deleterious effects of alcohol on judgment, inhibition, reflexes and coordination. You get just as drunk while getting jazzed on caffeine -- you simply stay awake and stimulated longer, so you wind up drinking more.

This combination would be bad enough if it required alternating booze and java. But the commercial products at the center of the current scandal combine highly concentrated alcohol -- the equivalent of five beers in a single can -- with a full mug of coffee's worth of caffeine. Before the can is set down, you are inebriated, but too wired on caffeine to know it.

It's hard to imagine any argument for such products -- except that selling them makes money for someone. So does selling heroin and cocaine, which are also very bad ideas.

It's also hard to imagine anyone objecting to a ban of such products, although the strong "keep the government out of my business" sentiment that runs through our society suggests that some will find cause to do so. In response to any objections, I can only ask: Where would you draw the line? Should the government stay out of the crack, heroin, and angel dust business as well, and simply let the peddling of such wares take their place in a free market economy? If there is any line at all over which dangerous products that generate unscrupulous profits at the cost of human life should be banned -- caffeinated alcoholic beverages are over it.

Combining caffeine and alcohol is, indeed, crazy. It can be lethally crazy, so it's a mistake you may not get to make twice. So don't make it even once. I recall a poster I had hanging on my dorm room in college that read: "Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from poor judgment." We do all need to learn by trying. But unfortunately bad judgment that kills you does not lead to good judgment -- it leads only to whatever final judgment we are destined to face, and the anguish of those left behind.

Please don't go there. No need to wait for the FDA. This stuff is crazy -- ban it yourself.


Dr. David L. Katz
www.davidkatzmd.com
www.turnthetidefoundation.org

The Crusade Against Four Loko

Alex Vadukul   |   November 19, 2010   11:40 AM ET

2010-11-19-Picture17.png
Image: Next Media Animation

The crusade against Four Loko is wrong. We have every right to drink a deranged caffeinated alcohol cocktail if we want to. It is potent but it does not kill people, as the sensational news stories will have you believe. The few that have "died" from it, thus igniting this controversy, died because they drank it irresponsibly; combining it (usually several Four Lokos) with other liquor, beer, and, it often seems, with diet pills. We should not have to suffer the irresponsibility of a few. Demonizing the drink is unjust because abusing any powerful alcoholic substance can lead to similar harmful consequences.

A recent story in the New York Times described the practice of "Four Loko Hands" parties, in which revelers drink from cans of Four Loko duct taped to their hands. Obviously this a bad idea, but if you're duct taping large cans of caffeinated alcohol to your hands then you probably know what you're getting yourself into. If you don't then you certainly can't blame anyone else, especially the drink or its makers, for the consequences afterwards. No disrespect is meant in this following example, but there is the commonly cited case of the 20-year-old in Tallahassee who fatally shot himself after drinking several cans of Four Loko. Blame should be put on his poor judgment or the deli, supermarket, or friend that provided him with the drink. Blame cannot be placed on the beverage alone. The same thing could have happened with any other liquor.

Lastly, and this is particularly frustrating, the drink makes no attempt disguise what it is, so I don't see what is objectionable about keeping it on the market. It is clearly sold as cheap "hell of a night" in a can. The loud colorful 12 oz product even looks diabolical. The word "Loko" is scrawled in a mad man's scribble along the side. There is hardly an inch of can not covered with the words Alcohol, Caffeine, Guarana, Taurine, or Malt in bold letters. "WE ID" is written on a black dot. It may even be the only can with a black ring opener! The makers of the drink are not trying to pass off Four Loko as anything other than what it is, as some suggest. Even if you've never heard of Four Loko you know what it is all about the instant you see the product. If you don't then you shouldn't be drinking it and ruining the fun for everyone else.

American consumers enjoy this extreme product. They should have the right to keep buying it. You don't see the country rushing to ban McDonalds or cigarettes, products enjoyed by millions but widely known for their ill effects. Banning Four Loko may even achieve little. Those that love the drink will find another way to get its desired effect, as happens with most contraband. The results may be more dangerous than the original drink.

Jonah Green   |   November 18, 2010    2:37 PM ET


In the wake of its inevitable ban, Four Loko, the drink that nobody really drinks but everyone loves to memorialize, continues to inspire more feats of absurdity. On Monday filmmaker Ryan Jones drank the stuff to scientifically guage how potent it is. On Wednesday Assemblyman Felix Ortiz imbibed three in a nearby hospital to monitor its effects.

Last night fans of the "blackout in a can" gathered in Union Square for a Four Loko vigil. Fans of the drink sang songs of support, lit candles and told stories about their best (or worst) Four Loko experiences. Even the 8-bit techno band Anamanaguchi came to show their support.

WATCH:

The Village Voice was there to report this moving and somber event:

Soon, the crowd began to light candles and, in turn, use those candles to light their cigarettes. A few mourners stepped forward to share their Four Loko stories. "Every time I drank a Four Loko, something terrible happened," one said, then, when the applause settled, concluded, "And each time, I grew from it." A less enthusiastic round of applause followed.

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