Four Loko Returns to Shelves, Minus One Ingredient

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Four Loko is back in Pennsylvania, minus the caffeine. But without the caffeine, the malt beverage may have lost some of its allure, according to one retail employee.

As reported in The Patriot News, stores are willing to make room on the shelf for the drink, which is made by Phusion Projects, but customer demand may be waning. "I personally haven't sold any," Charlie Swank, a cashier at Silver Spring Beverage in Silver Spring Township, told the newspaper. "It’s not taboo anymore, you know?"

Phusion Projects reformulated Four Loko, removing not only the caffeine but taurine and guarana as well, after the Food and Drug Administration warned last fall that adding caffeine to malt beverage is unsafe. That warning came after the fruit-flavored, high-alcohol and caffeine drink -- referred to by some as blackout in a can -- was linked to a series of incidents last year in which people were either hospitalized or died. The events even led to some stated banning Four Loko, according to The Patriot News.

But the change in Four Loko is not enough to win over every detractor. The malt beverage contains 12 percent alcohol, the equivalent of five beers. This has caused some colleges, like Lebanon Valley College, to continue its ban on the drink, according to the newspaper.

Over at Glenn Miller Beer & Soda Warehouse in Lemoyne, Pa., the new Four Loko sits among other high-alcohol drinks like Joose and Sparks in a small section of the store devoted to flavored beverages. However, Rodney Miller, president of the business, noted it has not been a big seller, possibly because the average beer drink doesn't have a taste for Four Loko's fruity flavors, the news outlet added.