Why is everyone so nostalgic for messing up their bodies?
Remembrances of Four Loko — the super-caffeinated, alcoholic energy drink available in every convenience store for a narrow window of time before FDA intervention at the end of the aughts — are their own genre of internet content.
It is, if there is such a thing, the internet’s beverage, even years after the demise of its original formula. “If you can remember your Four Loko experiences, it wasn’t a Four Loko experience,” comedian Kady Ruth recently tweeted, in response to a question from comedian Akilah Hughes, asking for stories about the drink’s golden age. “Why tell, when you can show a photo series?” dancer and YouTuber Ava Gordy replied, attaching an image of herself surrounded by Four Loko cans and wearing a gas mask. Photos from Four Loko’s golden days are scattered around on Tumblr and Imgur, captured with the high-flash, red-eyed weirdness of disposable cameras and early iPhones.
In an oral history of Four Loko, published on Grub Street last summer, the team of Ohio State buddies who created it explained how the product went from a small production run in 2005 to a splashy New York City debut in 2009 to over $100 million in revenue in 2010. In short: They made the cans tall and they gave them a neon camouflage print to make them stand out. Plus they raised the alcohol level as high as they legally could for a malt beverage.
2010 sounds like such a long time ago that I was honestly surprised when one of the Gawker pieces about the moment mentioned the fact that Obama was president. I