Four Loko, the highly caffeinated high-alcohol-content adult beverage du jour on college campuses these days, was invented by a trio of Ohio State grads. Go figure.
Four Loko's been in the news lately after nine college kids in Washington were taken to the hospital with severe alcohol poisoning after chugging a bunch of Four Loko. Controversy erupted after the shocking instance of alcohol abuse on a university campus. States are now debating whether to ban the drink. Colleges are considering ways to keep the "Blackout in a Can" off their campuses.
Four Loko is loaded with caffeine (about as much as a 12-ounce coffee) and a whopping 12% alcohol content. The 23.5-ounce can is also dirt cheap (around $2.50), which is right in the wheelhouse of a college kid's budget.
So who are the minds behind the Liquid Cocaine and what do they think about the national uproar?
Chris Hunter, Jason Freeman and Jeff Wright came up with the idea for Four Loko in 2005, after noticing that students were mixing alcohol and caffeine in bars.
The trio, who met while studying at Ohio State, formed Phusion Projects LLC and started selling 23.5-ounce malt beverages on convenience-store shelves near campuses. Four Loko costs $2.50 a can.
"We found an opportunity that wasn't really being filled," said Hunter, originally from Youngstown.
The founders of Chicago-based Phusion released a statement today saying they support the goal of making college campuses safe but "know that curbing alcohol abuse on college campuses will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category."
Hunter would not comment further on a possible ban but said the label warning consumers that Four Loko contains alcohol is as large as the federal government allows.
"We will continue down the path that we've been, which is enforcing enjoying alcoholic beverages responsibly," Hunter said.
And, in shocking news, college kids will continue to binge drink on something else if you prevent them from getting Four Loko. It's kinda what they do.