Four Loko Lives, but as a Quieter, Caffeine-Free Concoction

Founders Tell the Behind-the-Scenes Story

By Published on .

Did you know that well before states started banning Four Loko, its creators had, perhaps figuring something like that could happen, made two formulations of their high-alcohol beverage, one with caffeine, one without? But when the brand became the focal point for a wave of media stories and implicated in violence and death, things snowballed so quickly they didn't have much time to react.

That's part of the saga being told by Jay Cheshes, at Maybe what stands out in the story even more than the fact that other caffeinated beverages like the original Four Loko are still on the shelf is the fact that Four Loko itself is still on the shelf.

The partners concluded nonetheless that caffeine wasn't key to keeping Four Loko alive. "We've got a great business, great brand, great awareness," Hunter argued toward the end of the year, as they considered the possibility of shutting down altogether. "Let's take the caffeine out."

And by this spring they were well into their relaunch. "We were off the shelves in a lot of markets for two months," says Wright, "lost 30,000 points of distribution and the competition came in and took that distribution. But we're getting back on our feet again. We didn't let go of a single employee."

Most Popular