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Friday, September 29, 2023

Lance Behn said he only gets it once a week. Zack Daly gets it two or three times a week.

UF students and beverage lovers around the country are stocking up on any remaining Four Loko, the alcoholic energy drink that has raised controversy over its health effects.

In response to recent legal controversy, makers of Four Loko agreed to remove the energy-boosting ingredients from the drink — caffeine, taurine and guarana — making it merely another malt beverage on the market.

Since the Food and Drug Administration requested that all alcoholic energy drinks cease distribution last week, shipments of Four Loko have been halted, but sales have not stopped.

The country’s very last caffeinated Four Lokos have been flying off the shelves.

Daly, whose favorite flavor “hands down” is orange, began stocking up on the drink the minute the store clerk told him of Four Loko’s fate. 

“I was like, ‘Oh, crap,’ and I ran back to the fridge and grabbed a bunch,” he said.

He’s up to a stockpile of about 15 cans and said he plans to drink all of them himself.

Beverage stores around Gainesville are either out of stock or running low on the energy-infused Loko. As of Tuesday afternoon, area ABC Fine Wine & Spirits still had them in stock, except for the one on Archer Road. The Campus Store, on 13th Street and University Avenue, was sold out, and only two flavors of Four Loko remained at Gator Beverage:  watermelon and fruit punch.

“We’ve sold the hell out of them,” said James Thurston, a Gator Beverage employee. Thurston said he sold about nine cases Thursday night and four or five cases Saturday.

Gator Beverage owner Mark Barnett is not sure if the store will carry the energy-free Loko. He believes that Four Loko may suffer the same fate as Sparks, a beverage that was once an alcoholic energy drink that is now just an alcoholic beverage.

Thurston, however, thinks the 12-percent alcohol content will keep Four Loko sales steady if it does make a comeback.

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But Paul Doering, a UF professor in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research, isn’t sold on the drink being any less harmful once the energy buzz is gone. He’s concerned about the alcohol content and thinks that students will continue to seek out another type of energy boost.

“I don’t think it’s going to do a bit of good at all,” Doering said. “People will still use alcohol in dangerous ways.”

He said the only reason the caffeine is a concern is that someone would stay awake longer and drink more than he would without it.

But that’s precisely why some students love it.

Lance Behn, a UF alumnus and first-year graduate student, said he bought four cases the first night Four Loko makers announced their decision.

“I stopped at four because that was all I could fit in my trunk,” Behn said. He plans to keep his 48 cans for himself and share them among good friends once it’s gone for good.

“Every frat boy and his mom walked in here asking for cases of Four Loko,” said Mike Coaches, who works at University Liquors.

On Monday afternoon, the store had less than a case in stock.

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