I remember the very first time I tasted an energy drink. As a long-suffering veteran of media jobs that came with odd hours, I thought anything that could potentially carry me through a dreaded overnight shift was certainly worth a try. When I finally took a sip of the product that was all the rage at the time, I thought it tasted like a flat cream soda and, quite frankly, I never went back for more. Now many moons later I’m shocked and, well, appalled to learn that the accusations abound that the makers of these sugary caffeinated concoctions have now added alcohol to their mix and have allegedly set their sights on young people as their target market.
My story about the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce’s efforts to stop these potent drinks from getting in the hands of young people was a real eye opener for me personally. I had no idea that these drinks had become such big business and some say it’s at the expense of inexperienced young drinkers. The makers of these products meantime insist that they’re supposed to be consumed responsibly by individuals over the legal drinking age of 21. Critics aren’t buying it though. They contend that it’s not by chance that these drinks come in inviting exotic flavors (like cranberry lemonade, blue raspberry, orange, fruit punch or lemon lime) and that it is hard to distinguish between the packaging for the alcoholic and non-alcoholic ones. Many adults, like me, apparently are unaware that the energy drinks that their children are drinking, like “Sparks” and “Joose” even contain alcohol. The plot thickens when talk shifts to the effect these drinks, nicknamed “liquid cocaine” allegedly have on the body. There’s buzz that this will come up in Georgia’s next legislative session, as attorneys general in 29 states have said the drinks pose a serious health and safety risk to youth. Could there be a beverage battle beneath the gold dome next year?