Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Phusion Projects announced it would be removing the caffeine, taurine and guarana from their formula for the popular Four Loko beverages in November 2010, and just more than a year later the demand for a Four Loko has decreased locally.
After a number of incidents that resulted in the hospitalization of numerous college students nationwide due to overconsumption of the high energy and alcohol levels contained in a 23.5 ounce can, the Food and Drug Administration required Four Loko and competitors to take the energy supplements out of the alcoholic beverage.
PJ’s, a late-night sandwich shop and beer stop at 15 E. Frambes Ave., was one of the largest suppliers of Four Loko on campus during its popularity peak.
Jen Wingate, an employee at PJ’s, said that when the original formula was being sold, they would have to restock the cooler of Four Loko’s about four to five times per night. When the announcement was made to pull the energy from the drink, Wingate said PJ’s was at the top of the Four Loko market.
“We stocked up on the original formula,” Wingate said. “Our supply held for about 6 months, we were one of the last places near campus to have them.”
One student that The Lantern has chosen to keep anonymous, said he built his own supply of the original Four Lokos before they vanished.
“I bought as many as I could while they were still available,” the student said.
The student still has some of the original formula stashed away in a kitchen cabinet, and explained that a can of “the good stuff” is valuable on campus. He said that one can of Four Loko can turn quite a profit.
“I made $12 off of one can before,” the student said.
The caffeine-free version of Four Loko hasn’t been able to bring nearly as much business to PJ’s as its energy-packed predecessor.
“Once we only had the energy-free version in stock, many customers turned to products such as Joose, which still had caffeine in it,” Wingate said. “That lasted as a substitute until we ran out of those, since Joose is no longer made at all.”
Wingate said new alcoholic beverages have come along to replace Four Loko. These include such varieties as Jeremiah Weed and Tilt. PJ’s has seen an increase in sales of these and other alcoholic beverages as Four Loko sales decline.
“We are seeing newer beverages take place of Four Lokos, because they taste much better and still carry the same alcohol content as a Loko,” Wingate said.
Jared Davies, a fourth-year in economics, said the original formula “did the job,” and said he believes the formula change completely ruined the Four Loko experience.
“They definitely got you drunk before,” Davies said. “Now they just taste bad and don’t do anything.”
Even critics of Four Loko have commented on the beverages value since its makeover. Max Yellstrom, a third-year in psychology, said he was more turned off by the product once they changed its contents.
“Four Lokos were a big turn off before,” Yellstrom said. “The formula change completely changed my opinion. Definitely a no-go.”
Repeated attempts to reach members of Phusion Projects were unsuccessful.