Say No to Four Loko

The Alcoholic Drink Was (Accidentally) Advertised at our University

Photo Brian Lapuz

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about university, it’s that the people you meet and the things you get up to are just as important as the lectures you skip and the readings you forgot.

University is an experience that encompasses so much more than just class. There are clubs, fraternities and sororities, frosh week and pub crawls and wine and cheeses. It’s a whole community of people and a calendar full of events that make university, well, university.

Of course, another thing that I’ve learned about university is that drinking fuels a whole lot of all that stuff.

Like at the aforementioned pub crawls, wines and cheeses, and frosh—an event that essentially revolves around getting freshmen drunk for a week straight—alcohol plays an important part in that nebulous authentic university experience we come for.

That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s probably the way it always will be. There’s no use denying alcohol’s omnipresence. But should we be encouraging it?

An ad that until very recently was posted in Concordia University’s Hall Building did just that.

“You’ll never guess what happened last night,” read the Four Loko alcoholic beverage ad in French, which was found on the fourth floor by the escalators last week.

For those ignorant of the alcoholic drink and its ability to really mess you up, Four Loko is a “flavoured malt beverage” from the United States. It initially contained uppers like caffeine, guarana, taurine and wormwood on top of malt liquor and was advertised as an alcoholic energy drink. However, after being banned in several states and receiving a warning letter from the FDA due to the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine it was reintroduced as a solely alcoholic beverage.

Now, it comes in a 695 ml can and has an alcohol content of about 12 per cent, making it the equivalent of drinking four to five beers in one go.

Known by many as the “lose virginity drink” or “blackout in a can”, the original Four Loko caused its fair share of chaos in frat parties and pre-drinks across the US. In November 2010, nine university students aged 17 to 19 were hospitalized after mixing Four Loko with beer, vodka and rum at a house party in Washington. Some of the students had a blood alcohol level considered potentially lethal, and one student nearly died.

In October of the same year, Ramapo College in New Jersey banned the possession and consumption of Four Loko on campus after more than 20 students were hospitalized after apparently drinking the stuff.

Since being stripped of all its stimulating ingredients, the drink has mostly been absent in news stories about college students getting their stomachs pumped. Still, Four Loko continues to make it into some outrageous headlines: “‘The last thing I remember is drinking a couple 4 Lokos,’ says Florida man accused of stealing boat” and “Couple busted during Four Loko-fueled sex on beach” are my favorites from 2017.

Now, the sickeningly sweet malty drink has made it onto the walls of our university to boast its blackout-inducing reputation to the Concordia community.

Concordia, we’re so much better than Four Loko.

The university spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said that the ad was accidentally put up by the advertising company that the school deals with without having been approved first, which is the standard procedure. She went on to say “the university discourages the promotion of alcoholic beverages on campus.” When it was discovered that the ad had been posted, it was taken down.

University culture is a drinking culture and there isn’t much we can do to stop that from being the case, at least right now. It’s unfortunate that ads for a 12 per cent 695 ml drink with a wild reputation found themselves in our school, even accidentally.

Let’s make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.