Twenty Nine Attorneys General Worry Teenagers May Get All Coked-Up On Spykes

Twenty-nine state attorneys general have asked Anheuser-Busch, makers of the alcoholic flavor shots called Spykes, to warn consumers that it may be dangerous to mix Spykes with caffeinated beverages. The AGs also expressed concern that Spykes might encourage underage drinking with its “tiny, attractive, brightly colored containers that can be easily concealed in a pocket or purse.” That couldn’t possibly appeal to underage drinkers, who, we are told, prefer their 40 oz beverages concealed in sober tan paper bags.

Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Francine Katz said the St. Louis company does not endorse underage drinking and does not target minors. She said Spykes shots, which are sold in 2-ounce bottles and have as much alcohol as a third of a glass of wine, are less likely to appeal to minors, who typically “drink for instant impact.”

Controversy is practically Spykes’ mistress. The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms already ruled that the Spykes’ teeny-tiny government mandated warning label was “out of compliance” for being too teeny and tiny. We don’t see Spykes becoming less controversial anytime soon, leading us to wonder: is Spykes the new Cocaine? — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Anheuser Criticized Over Alcohol-Caffeine Drinks [Washington Post]

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  1. dragonflight says:

    just….wow. I can’t believe that A-B actually thinks that this product won’t find its way into the hands of teens.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..Eh, not the new cocaine, unless there’s something in there I’m not aware of. A third of a glass of wine? Who-hoo! Party on! You’d need a whole backback full of these things to get wasted…

    …..I’m guessing that this is aimed at the grade school-aged kids. Sort of a mild Shirley Temple teaser drink to get them hooked early.

  3. ptkdude says:

    Isn’t it “Attorneys General”?

  4. TomK says:

    All this hysterical bullshit about underage drinking is exactly why so many people in this country have problems with alcohol. In countries where kids drink wine with dinner alcohol is dymystified and loses its ability to hurt so many people through stupid rebelous adventuring. Also, either the people who rail against underage drinking are hypocrits and drank underage themselves, or are total losers who never touched a beer till they were 21. Either way they shouldn’t be the ones in deciding about drinking.

  5. TomK says:

    As you might guess from my typo there, I’ve also been doing some drinking (with dinner, as it were).

  6. KF4 says:

    Phooey and pashaw. I’m sorry if I don’t get up-in-arms over teen drinking. I find most campaigns to legislate morality silly and hypocritical. Yes, alcohol and tobacco companies shouldn’t market to children. Enforce that. I don’t care what it looks or tastes like, teens will drink. Why? Because adults do, and they’re told they can’t. But color and caffeine don’t make a generation of drunks. A credit card industry that preys upon the young-adults, leaving them indebted for thousands and financially retarded? That I worry about. And I’m one of them (the young adult part, not necessarily the financially-challenged part. I made my mistakes and learned from them. Called “growing-up.” Life does that, not attorneys general condemnation from behind brandy snifters and oak desks).

  7. mendel says:

    A third of a glass of wine? Lives will be destroyed! Stop the country!

  8. Falconfire says:

    @dragonflight: Ha and you think they could stop them if it looked less cool? You must have missed high school huh? I knew kids who drank rubbing alcohol thinking they might get drunk (stomach pumped was what they actually got)

    funny enough though, my friends who’s parents let them drink wine when they where 13-15 where the ones who (shock) DIDNT DRINK at the parties. Something about the whole their parents weren’t saying they couldn’t so it wasn’t very rebellious and kinda stupid was what they used to say. Was typically the foreign born kids who where like that though.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    What they call drinking for impact, we called, waking up with half of your face and most of your hair cemented to the carpet by your own vomit.
    Ah, the glory and beauty of youth!!

    PS: *totally* agree – feed kids some wine w/ dinners and they learn to drink responsibly. All the binge-ers were from anal-parenting households.

  10. Rajio says:

    yes only youth like things colourful. we all know once you hit 20 your rods and cones get all messed up and you lose colour preception!

  11. Sonnymooks says:

    I think this whole thing is a publicity stunt.

    I’ve tried and tried and I can’t anyplace anywhere that carries this, and I live in NYC.

  12. letoofdune says:

    Ok, I don’t know where I fall on this whole underage drinking thing. The bright, shiny colors on this crap tell me it’s meant for high school kids and Freshman girls. No one over 21 will actually drink these things. But I guess that’s ok.

    Tangent – when I was living in Berlin back during the Spring of 2004, there was a big hooplah about alcopops and junk like this. In Germany, the drinking age for beer and wine is 16, while it’s 18 for hard liquor. These kids of things blur the line – it’s not hard liquor, but it’s not beer or wine. I don’t know if they ever resolved that issue.

  13. ahwannabe says:

    I never understoon the point of mixing alcohol with caffeine.

  14. guroth says:

    2 oz of 24-proof alcohol

    you need to drink 3+ of these things to get the same amount of alcohol as a shot of 80-proof vodka, and they probably cost $5 each or something ridiculous, and most of that is the cost of the glass!

  15. Angiol says:

    @ptkdude: Yes, and the same goes for ‘secretaries of state’, ‘mothers-in-law’, etc.

  16. FishingCrue says:


    Excerpt:
    “It’s also puzzling why the attorneys general would single out Spykes for their concern about caffeine,” she said. “Adults have been drinking rum and cola, espresso martinis, black Russians and Irish coffee for decades.”

    Isn’t that kind of admitting they’re targeting kids by saying “Adults have been…”

    Either way they’re probably nasty enough that only kids would even consider drinking them.

  17. dragonflight says:

    @Falconfire: As a high schooler who’s never drank, but has many friends who have, I hardly think marketing to high schoolers is what they need at this point. Yes, the rebellious ones will drink regardless, but when its been driven into even the smart kids heads that drinking is ‘cool’, the battle is over.

    Albeit, it’s still up to parents to make it clear to their kids the consequences of drinking.

  18. Neev says:

    The AGs also expressed concern that Spykes might encourage underage drinking with its “tiny, attractive, brightly colored containers that can be easily concealed in a pocket or purse.”

    …It’s been a LONG time since those AGs were young enough to be underage, hasn’t it? “More is better” has been the only drinking philosophy I’ve ever seen in underage drinkers.

  19. Falconfire says:

    @dragonflight: But is it really driven into their heads? I mean christ 30 years ago it used to be LEGAL to drink in High School. Hell it was legal to smoke right next to the school building too. The only reason it became illegal was because they though it would stop kids from drinking and driving which they thought was the reason why so many got into accidents. Funny enough while it did stop a lot of them, teenage deaths behind the wheel went UP not down, because them drinking was not the root of the problem. Teens just being generally stupid and irresponsible was, partially because unlike in the past, we treat our teens like they are children, when 30-40 years ago they would be ADULTS with all the rights except being able to vote.

    And its only getting worse. You cant even drink on most colleges these days. The school I went to had a student bar they converted into a cafe. I went to school on a fucking MOUNTAIN. Did that stop college kids from drinking? NO, all it did was make them drive down a steep ass mountain, get drunk, then crash their cars driving home up a steep ass mountain.

    I mean look at Paris Hilton. Shes a fucking ROLL MODEL to the under 25 set, and shes trying to get out of going to jail for violating her paroll on guess what DRINKING AND DRIVING. And mommy and daddy are trying to help her. If thats not a perfect example of how fucked up we treat people who should be treated as adults I dont know what is.

    Maybe if we let teenagers make these mistakes and then lock their fucking asses up and treat them like the adults they are supposed to be, we wont be worrying about some beer company making a fu fu drink that might fall into the hands of a bunch of stupid ass 17 year olds. If they want it fine let them have it. If they get drunk and do something stupid and die GOOD let them die. Darwinism at its best I say, anyone fucking dumb enough at 15-16 do drink and drive or jump off a building or what have you is a perfect example of genes that NEED to be eliminated from our gene pool.

  20. kerry says:

    @Falconfire: Precisely. I went to a boarding school and my friends drank vanilla extract (and peppermint, and spearmint, and cinnamon . . .) for the alcohol. Me, I didn’t start drinking irresponsibly on a regular basis until I was 21. Go figure.

  21. Bourque77 says:

    If a flashy color is all it takes to get a high-schooler to start drinking, they were on their way to a darwin award anyway. Kids dont drink because something is marketed to them, they drink because its “cool”

  22. fuckdiggggggggg says:

    Um … Alcohol enhances sexual pleasures ….thats enough for me to become an alcoholic at age 11

  23. whitespider says:

    Exactly. What FalconFire said is true. It used to be legal to drink and smoke in highschool. It’s not a MORAL issue… shit in the 20s it used to be illegal for everyone to drink! And I remember seeing an old photograph of a large group of women with a sign behind them that said “any lips that touch alcohol will never touch ours” or something to that effect. It’s pathetic how each time has it’s morals as if they will ALWAYS be the case.

    What you think is immoral today may very well be the norm tomorrow.

    I have no problem with underage drinking so long as it was a respectable age.. germans had a decent idea of it.. hell WE had the idea years ago… till highway saftey laws came around.

  24. EtherealStrife says:

    @Falconfire:

    Agreed. Let the idiots learn the hard way.

    My parents let me screw up early on, and frequently (without helping me out of the subsequent messes). It really came in handy by the time I hit college, and knew how to bail my own butt out of sticky situations. And how to avoid many of them from the get-go.

  25. royal72 says:

    think of the poor children of today and have some compassion! no more smoking cigs, no underage sex, god forbid they smoke a joint, death by junk food, and holy shit if they’re out cruising on a friday night and tp someone’s house, they’re sure to get busted as terrorists by “national security” laws. so give the poor kids something… i got three words words for you, “ice cream trucks”. we gotta get these things out to the kids.

  26. hop says:

    when i was in basic at sampson afb i saw guys drinking after shave lotion to get a buzz on….mennens, it goeth down sweetly………………

  27. Her Grace says:

    My college was broken. It was cooler to read Shakespeare than drink (hint: we have [I believe] the only masters in Shakespeare in the US), and I hated the taste anyway. Now I get funny looks for being sober in a country whose beer consumption rivals, say, stereotypical Germany.

    I’ll never get why anyone thought it was or is cool to drink. Meh. A pretty bottle won’t change it for those of us who genuinely find the taste nauseating.

  28. Mr. Gunn says:

    Falconfire: That’s 4 fucks and egregious use of CAPS LOCK. 4 minutes in the penalty box for you.

    /or maybe you just need a drink ;-)

  29. deltasleep says:

    I feel like the problem is a lot bigger than whether or not a parent is permissive. My big sister was an alcoholic at 16, and my parents never drank, but made a big deal about it because both of their parents were alcoholics.
    Then, on the other hand, two of my good friends in high school who had the most permissive parents in our group (the “if you’re gonna drink you might as well do it over here where you’re safe!” parents) are now raging alcoholics, one of them homeless.
    This issue is like all the issues that concern those of us in the fields of child development and education: Everybody’s got a damned solution, and they look at us like “why aren’t you doing xyz?!”
    Schools, children, drugs, these things are enormously complex. After 20 years of teaching children you only have a slightly better idea about them than when you started. People aren’t statistics.

  30. Mr. Gunn says:

    Bourque77: Just maybe some young people drink for the same reasons older people do, you know, because they like a cold beer on a hot day, or it makes social events more fun for people who are a little inhibited.

  31. smarty says:

    Since when does a cold beer come in a 1.7-2 oz glass? Spykes is a shot, weak shot, but a shot, targeted for the young.
    http://www.progressivegrocer.com/progressivegrocer/profitg
    Target: The target audience is co-ed 21-27, beer and shot drinkers.
    Packaging: Spykes are packaged in a distinctive 1.7 oz glass or 2 oz. plastic bottles, 24 bottle flavor case.

    It’s the new wine cooler phase.
    Kids will drink, kids will smoke, Bud will advertise for young drinkers just as Phillip Morris has for young smokers.

  32. Bourque77 says:

    @Mr. Gunn: Yea I mean who doesnt want to break the law and drink under 21 cause its hot out. The “fun” you are referring to I believe is called sex. First off, I dont recall seeing or hearing of a kid drinking a beer during the day, but if they do meh whatever its obviously a small number of people. Generally speaking kids drink to get drunk, or get a girl drunk, and act stupid. I dont think marketing plays into it, which is what this story was about. I’m sorry but if you cant have fun or be fun to be around without drinking you have some serious personality issues.

  33. Falconfire says:

    @smarty: Last I looked 18 is no longer considered a “youth” to the courts, much less 21-27.

    Even better, how is this anything different from say a vanilla cake shot, or any other of the hundreds of fu fu shots out there. How about the number of colorful drinks that your neighborhood Applebee’s has? I know more kids who have managed to get those drinks than who have ever managed to get out of a liquor story without being caught by a undercover cop.

  34. smarty says:

    @Falconfire: Where did I say 18? Where did I say it’s different from any of the “hundreds of fu fu shots out there”? My only point is that it’s targeting to the young. You reply lacked any substance to my post, so learn to read what you’re replying to.

    You really think BUD is going to publicly say that their “Target” is 13-27 olds? Did big tobacco publicly say that their target is 13-27 year olds? Common Sense 101 + Marketing 101, get ‘em young.

  35. agahnim says:

    I have no idea if this is for kids or not, but if it isn’t, who is it for? I mean, this is just what I want: A caffinated shot to make my beer taste like a piña colada.

    What the hell is wrong with these marketing people? I don’t know who they hang out with, but most people I know just pour some vodka in a glass with some ice and fruit juice to taste when they want something fruity. Or they ask the bartender to make something crazy.

  36. SteveD1of1 says:

    If the government was so concerned about underage drinking, why doesn’t it also target the retailers and restaurants who sell this stuff to minors?

    Aren’t the clerks/servers/employees supposed to check ID if the customer looks even close to 30? Isn’t that part of the problem here?

    True, Anheuser-Busch and other beverage manufacturers should be held responsible for their questionable marketing efforts and be sanctioned if they step out of line.

    Perhaps if retailers kept beverages like Spykes behind the counter or in a locked case (similar to what’s commonly done with cigarettes and premium liquors), there would be a lot less hand-wringing, and more responsibility placed in the hands of those who provide alcohol to minors.

    And go ahead and put a warning on the Spykes label – does anyone really believe it will stop drinkers from mixing it with whatever they want?

  37. Falconfire says:

    @smarty: No I read you perfectly clear, you said “targeting to the young” multiple time.

    I merely pointed out that your concept of “young” is in no way the legal concept. IE a 21-25 year old is not YOUNG, but a adult.

    Your making it out to be they are targeting 14 year olds, which they clearly are not since it would be illegal for a 14 year old to even step foot INTO a liquor store in most states.

  38. @Falconfire: “Your making it out to be they are targeting 14 year olds, which they clearly are not since it would be illegal for a 14 year old to even step foot INTO a liquor store in most states.”

    First, this doesn’t prevent companies from targeting 14-year-olds; nor does it prevent 14-year-olds from setting foot into liquor stores; nor does it prevent liquor stores from selling to 14-year-olds.

    But second, is that actually true? That it’s illegal for 14-year-olds to go into liquor stores in MOST states? I’ve lived a couple places where that’s true, but other places (like where I live now) don’t bar underage folks by law from stores (although individual liquor stores may by policy bar them), and where I am now, if a bar serves any food, it’s a “tavern” and is usually open-entry to all ages. (We all the time see six-year-olds at our neighborhood bar.)

    —–

    Generally I agree with the philosophy of “glass of wine at special occasion family dinners starting in early teens.” In my experience it demystifies alcohol, which tends to reduce the urge to binge once out of parental sight. (Although, as someone noted, humans are not robots and every child is different.)

    But it is important to emphasize that the U.S. *IS* very different from Europe in that virtually everyone outside New York City DRIVES home from the bar because we simply don’t have the public transit infrastructure, and that kids in the U.S. drive younger than kids in Europe. (I also understand Europe generally has much stricter public intoxication laws than the U.S. does.)

    The answer may well be to let kids drink earlier and drive later, since 16-to-18-year-olds are disasters behind the wheel with or without alcohol and a lot of states are moving to heavily restricted licensing for teens anyway.

    (It remains super-lame that you can join the army or get married without parental consent before you’re able to buy the Demon Rum.)

  39. asherchang says:

    I must admit, those sleek and brightly colored little bottles are very, very appealing to me (I’m 18). But I don’t think that has anything to do with age, although I can see how easy it would be to sneak it into a bag.

    But all that doesn’t matter anyways, as I’m making a Freethinkers Abstaining From Psychoactive Substances pledge that includes alcohol in less than a month.

  40. CaptainRoin says:

    eh. I don’t trust people that don’t drink. All the kids I know that didn’t drink in HS went crazy in college. People should just lighten up a little. Maybe said AGs should get a case of these and try them out at their next meeting.

  41. KopyKat says:

    I think everyone is missing the real problem with this product: it tastes like ass. My parents live in the St. Louis area and last summer when visiting, we went on the A-B tour, which ends with a free tasting. They were previewing the Spykes, so we said to ourselves, “Selves, we might as well try it since it’s free.” Disgusting! Mango + beer = awful. I can tell the difference between tastes that I just happen to dislike and stuff that just isn’t fit for human consumption, and Spykes definitely falls in the latter category.

    So teens, go ahead and try Spykes. It will put you off the drink forever.

  42. magilacudy says:

    @KopyKat

    I went on one of those tours in Jacksonville. I agree… Mango flavor is horrible! Chocolate was not half bad though. Though I doubt it would taste good with Red Bull or whatever the kids are drinking these days – I would worry more about them going into diabetic shock from all that sugar than getting drunk.

  43. Why is any and everything that has a bright color must be targeting minors? Don’t adults like bright colors? Maybe it’s a bright color because bright colors are attractive.

  44. Oh, and as pointed out in the post comparing a RIAA fine to a DUI fine if they really wanted minors to stop drinking (or at least not drive when they do) they’d would pass laws creating harsher consequences. Heck, they might get the grown folks to stop doing that too.

  45. othium says:

    People will drink when they are underage if they want to. Heck, people will drink even if it’s against the law(Prohibition). Raising a hue and cry over some tiny little bottle is a bunch of wasted energy and tax money. I’m almost positive it was deemed a “safe” crusade to go on and keep the AG’s office in the news just to give the impression they were doing their part in keeping the youth of America safe from these dangerous things.

    I got lucky. The drinking age was 19 when I was in school. I entered the service when they raised it to 21, but I could still buy on base so it didn’t slow us down a bit. Afterwards I had to buy my younger brother beer when he missed the cutoff date by 2 WEEKS! He was in the service as well and by that time they had instituted the rule that military bases would follow the laws of the state they were in (unless near the Mexican or Canada border). What a bunch of B.S.! He spends all day learning how to kill the enemy as quick and effectively as possible and afterwards he couldn’t enjoy a cold beer to relax. Sad.

  46. s00p3rm4n says:

    @othium: The irony of fighting for freedom.

  47. welsey says:

    I can’t imagine a kid planning a party and asking their friend’s older brother to make sure to pick up a bunch of Spykes! What a wild party. Most of the teenagers I know (having two high school age brothers) would ask for beer or very cheap hard alcohol before something like this.

    This is more likely to be targeted advertising towards women than teenagers. They might as well have thrown in soft lighting, chocolate, relationship quizzes and something about a sex and the city style girls night out, as that is what tricks all of us women into buying things.