Following Michigan and Oklahoma’s lead, Chuck Schumer is calling on the New York State Liquor Authority to ban Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic beverage that imbibers call a “blackout in a can.” The sugary drinks, which come in kid-friendly flavors like fruit punch and lemon-lime, also contain as much alcohol as several beers and as much coffee as a tall Starbucks cup in each can. Stimulants and depressants, together at last. After our friend described the experience as “a party in your head and everyone’s invited, including your mean dad,” we’re happy to abstain. But the manufacturer, Chicago-based Phusion Projects, insists it’s no different than a Scotch and soda. (They left off “plus a coffee and a Red bull.”)
In August an 18-year-old girl from Long Island passed away in August when she drank Four Loko after taking a diet pill earlier that day. Dozens of students of Washington were hospitalized after drinking the beverage as well, which prompted the state to seek a ban. On its FAQ, Phusion says its cans “feature seven different warnings about the alcohol content and the need for an I.D.” in “a font as large as the federal government will allow.” And we all know how well warning labels work. Maybe it’s time to go multimedia — have an ambulance siren start bleating as soon as you pick it out of the case, and an automated 911 courtesy call a few hours hence.