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November 15, 2010

America loses its mind over Four Loko; drink now blamed for "hallucinogenic frenzy," 21-year-old Courtney Spurry's death

In today's fun headlines, here's this winner from WJZ-TV: "Alcoholic Energy Drink Made Md. Woman 'Lose Mind'"

The station is of course talking about Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic drink with the catchy slogan ("Blackout in a can").

Their story comes after a 21-year-old woman died in Easton November 7 when she crashed her Ford pick-up truck on two utility poles. Reportedly, Courtney Spurry of St. Michaels had been drinking with girlfriends before the accident. 

An autopsy has yet to be conducted, nor have police filed their report on the accident, but by Friday, Channel 13 had found the culprit in the caffeinated alcoholic drink.

Not only had Four Loko gotten the young woman drunk, it had also made her "lose her mind." The station came to its conclusion after it spoke with friends and relatives at the young woman's Thursday vigil. 

"She changed that night," said Abby Sherwood, a friend of the victim. The girl's uncle also chimed in. 

"Courtney, she was a little peanut. She was 4' 8", weighted 100 pounds," Lewis Spurry said. "So you can imagine drinking a couple of these drinks and all of a sudden she has no control of herself."

So this is new. On top of all the terrible effects that have been attributed to the energy drink, it can now also trigger someone's psychotic breakdown. It's not just a canned drink anymore, it's a devil serum.

It's official: we have now reached Four Loko hysteria saturation. America is having a collective freak-out over those 23.5-ounces of booze. Governor David Paterson told the manufacturer he doesn't want the drink in New York; four states have banned its sale; at least one media outlet has employed the phrase "war against Four Loko; and "We don't sell Four Loko" signs have quickly become a Tumblr meme.

Four Loko stories are beginning to sound like a scary movie's viral campaign. Next we'll hear it made a 75-year-old woman faint in a theater somewhere. It's a shame Steven Slater had his meltdown in October, he could have waited and just blamed Four Loko. You got a crazy story? Just peg it on Four Loko; it's all the rage.

WJZ isn't the only station going nuts over Four Loko. In Philadelphia, another CBS station reported the drink caused a suburban dad's "hallucinogenic frenzy."  

As everyone rushes to condemn it, the drink is only becoming more fetishized among its target audience: college students. Over the weekend, CNN interviewed students at University of Maryland College Park who said they'll keep chugging it down despite the risks.

At least Maryland schools are having the right attitude about it. In separate interviews last month, four university representatives told Midnight Sun they are avoiding a knee-jerk ban that would only encourage more consumption and are instead urging moderation.

An extra challenge for commenters: report back with locations - or better yet, pictures - of any local bodegas or liquor stores that have posted "We have no Four Loko" signs.

Photo: AP

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: News


Ahh, a good moral panic with no basis in science.

Want to up the ante? Find a way to combine Icing Bros with Four Loko. It needs a catchphrase, though.

"Dude, you just got Loko-ed" just doesn't have the same ring to it."

And yet nobody has banned mixing Red Bull and vodka. Or, for that matter, Irish whisky and coffee. Go figure.

More here:

here is a small idea to avoid this issue. My sympathies to the family but here is one small idea, DONT DRINK AND DRIVE. We have to remember a little thing called Common Sense.

So the next time someone wraps their car around a tree after drinking 20 Budweisers, are we going to ask to ban that too?

I drink grape four loko and it pisses me off that these people are blaming it on four loko! ABUSING IT and not drinking with caution! this goes for any alcohol beverage. if you drink and drive and wreck you are @ fault not the drink. these people that have been getting sick with four loko why in the hell are they drinking it ? i am sure that it was not their 1st time trying it either. this is stupid and ignorant! i live in texas and people are buying it up like crazy after all this media coverage! i will continue to drink four loko responsibly!

Clearly it's Erik's journalistic responsability to go out and drink 5 or 6 of these and report back. Perhaps record it and post on YouTube.

I would drink it if it came in 12 oz. Cans. We always forget about personal responsibility, people are always quick to blame someone or something else. We should have a four loko pong tournament at a neighborhood watering hole.
You loko-ed!#*!

anon; the aforementioned 12 oz. Four Loko, code named "Two Loko" is possibly in the works but spokespeople from Phusion Products wouldn't confirm nor deny when I emailed them.

"I live in texas and people are buying it up like crazy after all this media coverage! "

Not that it has anything to do with this story (which is really the only reason I'm posting), but why are you reading a blog (that's supposed to be) about Baltimore nightlife if you live in Texas? Don't you guys have your own blogs? Surely Austin has some interesting things going on.

I haven't said anything bad about Maza but I wonder whether it's considered a success or a failure when what you've written about a particular scene becomes general enough for people as far away as Texas to identify with and comment on?

Because, face it, everybody knows that Texas is a different country.

I watched a couple of bar patrons drink several cans of this stuff just this weekend behind all this "controversy". One person who tasted it said it tasted like "if you had a pan of jello open in the fridge, and you let it absorb all the fridge odors, and then stuck a dirty soccer cleat in for spice". Another person said the lemonade flavor tastes like "monkey piss". All I needed were two words to ensure I'll never touch it: "malt beverage". This is Zima or Schmirnoff Ice with caffeine. Who wants to drink that?

Four Loko and 2 Zig-Zags, baby that's all we need...

How is a Four Loko different than an Irish Coffee?

A few years ago in Arizona, some moron was running around, randomly assualting people with a hammer. The state immediately banned hammers. Nothing has been built in AZ since...

Oh wait. That didn't happen, you know why? Because it makes no sense to ban the tool that was used. Legislate the action, make it a crime. Turns out, drinking and driving is already a crime.

It's different as in whatever you drink between 18-22 is detrimental to your livelihood. It's all in extreme excess- and inexpensive. A bottle of Sutter home will have the same alcohol content and results but nobody is pounding them back like they're shots on the yard

I told a friend yesterday...this stuff tastes like Mad Dog 20/20 + red bull. With a side of regrets.

hahaha they banned it cuz that girl died dont blame the drink, yea its horrible people get drunk and drive but she shouldnt of drove shit when i get drunk i go insane 2 hahaha but im not stupid enough to drive,, dont blame the drink blame the people drinking it they just cant handle it ... its sad she drove and hit a pole but that her mistake dont blame 4 loko

what ever happened to DRINK RESPONSIBLY....not mater what alchohol it is its sad that becuase others werent resposibly we get to loose good drink...between a friend and i we drank 4 together and were still walking and having fun...

Were you drunk when you wrote this?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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