Four Loko: Filling your gas tank, not your stomach

Megan Wilkinson

Next time you’re at the gas station, you may be pumping more than just gas into your car.

Stores are sending Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks that can no longer be purchased to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia to be recycled into ethanol fuel.

MXI Environmental Services has recycled various ethanol-bearing wastes since 2003, which includes alcoholic beverages and products, said Brian Potter, vice president of operations. An Associated Press article stated that the company is processing 8,000 cases of Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks daily. The company intends to continue this process for several months.

Chris Meluch, senior political science major, used to drink Four Loko occasionally. He was surprised that the banned drink is now being recycled to fuel cars.

“It seems kind of ridiculous,” Meluch said. “I honestly think that they should have sold what has already been made. There’s no point in wasting it.”

The alcoholic energy drink was banned from Ohio stores because it contained nearly 12 percent alcohol content in a 23.5 ounce can, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. Chemicals in the drink included alcohol, caffeine, taurine, guarana, ginkgo biloba, ginseng and other stimulants.

“It tastes terrible, and it’s about as healthy as drinking gas,” said Andy Parina, junior art education major. “At the same time, it’s something that was approved for human consumption, so it can’t be too deadly.”

Four Loko is dangerous because of the mixture of caffeine and alcohol, said Scott Olds, social and behavioral science professor. Olds said the reaction between the drugs causes the drinker’s senses to fade.

Although the drink is no longer sold in Ohio, Phusion Projects released a new product this month called Four Loko XXX for fans of the drink. Four Loko XXX is similar to the original Four Loko, but it does not contain any caffeine.

The drink will feature new flavors every four months. Its current flavor is green apple, and blueberry lemonade will replace it in May.

Meluch said he intends to try the new Four Loko, but he is less enthusiastic about it.

“I don’t think it will be as successful as the original,” Meluch said. “The name has already been tainted, so there is a stigma around Four Loko. I think the caffeine added attention to it and was why people drank it before.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].