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The Caffeine is Too DAMN High

November 15, 2010

Some of you may know where this is going.  For those who don’t hang with me and I’ll get there.

I love French fries.  I also love Jeffrey Steingarten.

The first time I read his book, The Man Who Ate Everything, I was living in California.  One of the many marvelous chapters is about French fries.  In it Mr. Steingarten learns that potatoes fried in horse fat have a “a lightness and a true crispness you cannot obtain with other fats and oils.”  Ultimately he finds someone to bring back several gallons of the stuff from Austria, and decides that they are indeed wonderful.

On one level I found this to be inspiring, and I too wanted to find a source of horse fat so I could eat some of these impossibly crispy fries.  Although truth be told, I don’t really deep fry at home.  It’s a long story, but let me assure you, it is for the best.

Then one day, I heard the strangest news story.  Robert Redford was trying to ban the sale of horse meat in California.  Dammit.  But it was put on the ballot in November of 1998 and the citizens of my state were given the chance to vote on Proposition 6.

When it passed all my dreams for those glorious French fries were smashed.  And I was pissed.  I’m still pissed.  I don’t want my government telling me what I can or cannot eat.  There seems to be an ever-growing list of banned foods that started with horse meat, then moved to trans fats, and was just recently expanded to include caffeinated malt liquor.

While on one level I’m glad to see trans fats coming out of most foods, I would prefer to see them taxed rather than banned.  Then at least I could get a $30 pie with a tender crisp crust made with equal parts butter and shortening, instead of not being able to get one at all.

But let’s move on to the news at hand.

New York State has effectively and arbitrarily banned a single brand of “Alcoholic Energy Drinks.”  But it wasn’t our idea, we got it from the state of Michigan.  Honestly, I have no idea what Four Loko did to stir up such legislative ire, but they are riding the whirlwind.

I had never even heard about the brand, and I can’t recall ever having seen the product on store shelves, when I heard the recent news reports.

As far as I can tell, this product has a target market of men 21 to 24.  For under three bucks, you get a 23.5 oz can of 12% ABV malt liquor in your choice of ridiculous sweet and fruity flavors jammed packed with the caffeine of “a tall Starbucks coffee” and other stimulants like taurine and guarana.  Presumably it has some form of sweetener too.

Here’s the thing.

I’m opposed to binge drinking.  I think a product like this is likely disgusting, but admittedly now I am curious and plan to try some before it is gone for good.  It is the way this is all going down that makes me incredibly nervous.

The below comes from the New York State Office of the Governor:

SLA Chairman Dennis Rosen said: “We have an obligation to keep products that are potentially hazardous off the shelves, and there is simply not enough research to show that these products are safe.”…The State Liquor Authority [had] concerns over the potential dangers of these products, including the caffeine content and its potential to mask the effects of alcohol in the short term. After determining there is not enough evidence to ensure these products are safe for consumption, distributors agreed to voluntarily stop selling the products within an agreed upon time frame.

At its core this is about booze and stimulants.  So they are going after fruity caffeinated cheap malt liquor.  Actually they are arbitrarily going after just one brand of cheap caffeinated malt liquor.  Who cares?  Well, what would you say if the state took away your vodka and Red Bull?  It wouldn’t be any skin off my nose.  And truly that could pose an even greater danger to public health, given the greater potency of vodka in comparison to malt liquor.  But it would be a little worrisome to have the state start making laws about what two legal substances could be combined in bars.

If that ever happened it could ultimately threaten the king of all caffeinated cocktails, the Irish coffee.

I cannot let that happen.  Please contact your local elected official and tell them that this aggression will not stand. In the meantime I encourage you to show your support for this obscure little company that is being shafted by the government and buy some of their infernal hooch.  Have a sip, and then pour the rest out if you like, to show respect for those foods and beverages that have been legislated out of existence.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2010 10:28 am

    Any time I read about the government legislating what we can and cannot consume I twitch and have flashbacks to Soylent Green.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    November 15, 2010 10:35 am

    I am so happy that you too despise the Nanny State! Mayor Bloomberg is among the worst offenders. Four Loko should stay on the shelves. Horse should be sold at supermarkets.

  3. Tonia permalink
    November 15, 2010 11:15 am

    Well, they have to ban Red Bull and vodka, or any other Red Bull drinks, because isn’t that the same thing?? I wholeheartedly concur with you, except the horse meat thing.

  4. November 15, 2010 12:19 pm

    “As far as I can tell, this product has a target market of men 21 to 24.”

    It actually skews a teeny bit younger than that. One of those “well, we can’t legally encourage underage drinking, but here’s some terrible s*** only a dumb teen under the legal age would get enthusiastic about.” Container’s also a pretty good indicator.

    Which was, at least initially, the bigger issue that a lot of legislators and advocates took with it.

  5. November 15, 2010 11:06 pm

    Loko is actually fabulous. It blends particularly smoothly with Laphroaig.

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