What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us
A can of Sparks Plus is clearly marked 7.0% ALC/VOL. Is that enough to distinguish it from the wall of nonalcoholic energy drinks? Justin Foster via Flickr

Teens reaching for souped-up cold ones?

Stacey Vanek Smith Aug 22, 2007
A can of Sparks Plus is clearly marked 7.0% ALC/VOL. Is that enough to distinguish it from the wall of nonalcoholic energy drinks? Justin Foster via Flickr

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Every time I go to the convenience store, I’m astounded at the wall of energy drinks they have now. And all the stuff that’s in them: caffeine, gingseng, taurine. And some of them have alcohol in them. Those drinks, with names like Torque and Liquid Charge, are under a lot of scrutiny now. Stacey Vanek-Smith has more.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: This week attorneys general in 29 states complained in a letter to regulators that alcoholic energy drinks are being marketed to teens.

Industry consultant Tom Pirko says part of the problem is that these drinks look a lot like their non-alcoholic counterparts, and the two often sit side-by-side on store shelves.

Tom Pirko: Unless there are very, very strong labeling standards, it’s easy to confuse the products. Plus young consumers are going hunting for these products to get an extra hit.

There’s even a MySpace page for Sparks Plus, an amped-up beer from Miller Brewing. On the page, Sparks Plus touts itself as a good alternative to “high-powered street drugs” if you need to stay up all night.

Tom Pirko doubts drink-makers will pay much attention to the attorneys general. But, he says, if the letter sparks a public outcry, companies will have to listen.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.