Save Sparks Red!

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

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
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:

Red Bull & Vodka
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.

15 thoughts on “Save Sparks Red!”

  1. Legislating this is ridiculous; however, I’ll admit that for me, caffeine combined with alcohol is a sure-fire way to make some bad decisions.

  2. I agree! Save Sparks Red! I love Sparks!

    As far as the caffeine combined with alcohol argument – I agree that this is at least a way of moderating the amount of alcohol in a mixed (caffeinated) drink. I remember pouring my first caffeinated mixed drink (a long time ago)…that was a disaster that lasted well into the next afternoon.

  3. Is this the GOP version of the nanny state? If so, bring back the old nanny state that just regulated things like safer cars and mortgage underwriting.

    I have it from reliable sources that back in the pre-Sparks era, frats boys also used to engage in binge drinking.

    My motto — Stop regulating the tools and start educating the fools.

  4. I couldn’t agree more … there r 12% alc energy like drinks that already exist . just look at joose, four, and even like u said bud with the 8.3% one that already exist … so whats the big deal . why they gonna battle sparks red . it is moderate compared 2 what is out there…….

  5. caffein doesnt have anything to do with buzz. does anyone know if sparks red come out in cali? or at al??

  6. I love how the primary argument against Sparks (and like beverages) is that they appeal to young people. If that’s the case, I think there’s a long list of other alcohol that should be pulled off shelves. If young people (i.e., “yuts”) want to get drunk, I think they’ll find away. This seems to have been happening ever before sparks.

    Now, by removing caffeine from Sparks, they’re taking away my only way to have bustin dance moves at weddings. What a shame.

  7. Save SPARKS, not just SPARKS RED. I heard they were taking it away in NY as well so I went and bought $150 worth (50 cans) yesterday. I am a huge fan, and its bullshit to single out 1 drink that does it right. When I drink sparks I edit sick videos ( and I play RockBand (I’m the guy with the Nacho Libre Mask) ( and I listen to Girl Talk ( So I guess its back to RBV’s. Maybe we can get Obama to bring SPARKS back? Who’s with me!

  8. so did Miller/Coors not give enough money to the lobbyists of those 25 states??…they better start working on a plain to take my coffee away, since i might go and mix it with some baileys irish cream… oh no!!

  9. so did Miller/Coors not give enough money to the lobbyists of those 25 states??…they better start working on a plan to take coffee off of store shelves, since i might go and mix it up with some baileys irish cream… oh no!!

  10. Yea this is bogus, Sparks Red was the best tasting one so far…I drank like 4 of them a day for as long as they were out (if not more) and I never attempted anything stupid…And their new flavor Stinger Lemonade or whatever tastes worse than piss, I took one sip and threw it out…Cmon miller…

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