The company that makes Four Loko, a once-popular caffeinated alcoholic beverage, announced on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with 20 attorneys general to halt the production and sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages nationwide. The Four Loko name technically lives on, but the specific type of caffeinated drink associated with it is no more—a modern-day ship of Theseus.
Though introduced into the marketplace in back in 2005, Four Loko gained notoriety in the fall of 2010 when it became popular among teenagers and on college campuses and led to reports of heightened binge drinking and dangerous consequences. Several states banned the drink as a result, and Phusion agreed to lower the level of caffeine in the drink. Anyone who has taken a high school health class knows that mixing a stimulant like caffeine and a depressant like alcohol can lead to severe intoxication.
In addition to halting caffeinated alcoholic drink production, Phusion also agreed to other terms. They include altering advertising so as not to promote binge drinking and not advertising on school or college property except at licensed retailers. They also agreed to not use models under the age of 25 who might be interpreted as being underage. Phusion had come under fire in the past for supposedly marketing its products to underage drinkers. Finally, Phusion also agreed to pay $400,000 to regulators.
“Phusion used marketing and sales tactics that glorified alcohol use and promoted binge drinking,” said Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General of Illinois, where Phusion Projects is headquartered. “This agreement is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to reduce access to dangerous caffeinated alcoholic beverages, especially to underage drinkers.”
Phusion’s president, Jim Sloan, said in a statement, “While our company did not violate any laws and we disagree with the allegations … we consider this agreement a practical way to move forward and an opportunity to highlight our continued commitment to ensuring that our products are consumed safely and responsibly only by adults 21 and over.”
Neither side of the settlement addressed concerns that Four Loko tastes like garbage and is a garbage concoction.