Four Loko creators speak out for first time: ‘We were pegged as the bad guys’

RIP

The inventors of Four Loko have finally broken their silence! In a long interview with The Fix that you really must read, the trio of Jeff Wright, Jaisen Freeman and Chris Hunter open up about the entire three-act tragedy of the caffeinated alcoholic beverage, from its early days as a Sparks knock-off, to its brisk success and immediate backlash, to its rebirth as a watered-down, non-caffeinated malt liquor.

The highlights:

On being inspired by the alcohol-and-caffeine mix of Red Bull and vodka:

“This is a great idea,” [Hunter] said, sounding like a Mark Zuckerberg mixol ogist. “This is the evolution—but we can do it better.” … W here public health advocates saw trouble, Hunter, Freeman, and Wright saw a potential goldmine.  “We couldn’t go wrong with this thing,” Freeman recalls. “This was our billion-dollar idea.”

On attempting to prove to the FDA that the "energy beer" was safe:

“Historically the data was there,” says Freeman. “Just look at the history: Irish coffee, Jack and Coke, Red Bull and vodka. You pull all the data, compile it into a nice big report, and get four independent scientists to say, ‘We agree.’”

On the Four Loko backlash:

"Unfortunately we were pegged the bad guys,” says Wright. “We tried to keep a low profile, but we couldn’t stay out of the news. You’ve spent five years of your life, you’ve got 70 employees, selling a perfectly legal product, and all of a sudden you’re under all this scrutiny. It’s extremely stressful.”

On the safety, or lack thereof, of Four Loko:

“We drank our product, we know it’s like any other alcohol,” says Hunter. “If you consume something responsibly you’re fine, if you don’t you’re not fine, and I don’t care if that’s Bud Light, Smirnoff vodka or Four Loko.”

On rising again after the FDA banned alcoholic energy drinks:

“We all had this big sit-down,” he says. “And we discussed the situation. We thought, ‘Hey, do we just walk away?’ We’re not rich, but we made a little bit of money here. Do we just screw our customers and our employees? That conversation lasted about two seconds. We all agreed to keep going on. Everything we made, we’re all in again.”

Read the whole thing at The Fix! It’s a treat.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.