Sure, kids may like it, but about kids at heart?
The latest canned, alcoholic, caffeinated beverage from MillerCoors*, Sparks Red, is under attack. Why? Because they claim a drink that stimulates while it intoxicates is a big problem once you make the leap from 7% alcohol by volume to 8%. That, apparently, is a magical cut-off where college students decide they can jump moving cars or receive nasty skin burns after assaulting hot apple pies.**
A few beers beverages that are, apparently, less dangerous include:
Sam Adams Triple Bock – 17.5
Third Coast Old Ale – 10.2
Expedition Stout – 10
Double Bastard Ale – 10
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot – 9.9
Stone Old Guardian – 9.9
Old Dipsea Barleywine – 9
Old Knucklehead – 8.9
Sam Adams Double Bock – 8.5
And Modern Drunkard (a fine publication) points out that many malt liquor drinks are also over 8% ABV.
Of course, beer doesn’t offer the “dangerous” 1-2 punch of alcohol + energy drink. So that must be safer, right?
The Reeses Defense
Photo by ohdearbarb
If I worked for MillerCoors, I’d pull out the Reeses Defense. Just because you combine two awesome things to create something even more awesome doesn’t make you a criminal.
Additionally, what’s stopping people from doing this on their own? Ever heard of this:
Photo by markhillary
Here’s the crazy part: It would be cheaper for college students to make their own knock-off Sparks Red using Red Bull plus some crappy vodka. And what do you think are the chances that a college student would pour a stiffer drink than what Sparks puts in a can?
Any is it really that different from rum & Coke?
The Actual Study
Enough anecdotal stuff. This whole thing got some legs after a group called the Center for Science in the Public Interest latched onto a study by Wake Forest (pdf) that “studied” the effects of alcoholic energy drinks.
Here is the introduction to the study:
Limited research suggests that energy drink ingestion lessens subjective suggests that energy drink ingestion lessens subjective intoxication in persons who also have consumed alcohol.
So they haven’t researched this much.
And who consumed these drinks:
Students who were male, White, intramural intramural athletes, Greek society members or pledges, and younger were significantly more likely to consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
Date raping frat boys, of course.
This study used cross sectional data, which limits our ability to assess causal relationships. In addition, the relationships between consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks, and high-risk drinking, and alcohol related consequences may be result of selection effects; specifically, sensation seeking individuals may be drawn to energy drinks, heavy alcohol consumption, and risky behaviors.
So there you have it. We all have to suffer because data raping frat boys happen to like Sparks.
By the way, Minnesota’s Attorney General, Lori Swanson, is not one of the 25 attorney generals who’ve jumped onto this questionable bandwagon. Here is a map of the states that hate canned alcoholic energy:
* Creative name, guys.
** Don’t try either of these things. Trust me.