Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mixed messages

Not too long ago, I noted here the backlash against "Four Loko" -- a malt beverage containing a lot of caffeine.  I lampooned the idea that this combination is particularly pernicious.  But today the Food and Drug Administration of the United States federal government saw fit to intervene in this space, basically banning the malt-beverage-energy-drink category.

As I read through the story of this administrative action in the New York Times online, I couldn't help thinking back to another story I read in the New York Times recently:  a story about coffee-based cocktails.  Although the author of that piece noted the controversy surrounding Four Loko (et al.), there was no sense of the moral panic that for some reason surrounds the spiked energy drinks. 

How to explain this discrepancy?  I'm sticking with that old standby:  hysteria.

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