Say Goodbye to Sparks

As a fellow Sparks drinker, I learned of some really sad news this morning. Soon I will not be waking up with an orange tongue after a night out in D.C.

Maryland's Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, announced an agreement with MillerCoors that will result in the nationwide discontinuance of the country’s top-selling pre-mixed alcoholic energy drink, Sparks.

As part of the agreement across 14 states, the mega brewer will not produce any caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. Sparks future was in doubt when light was brought to the Attorneys General that the beverages were being marketed to an underage audience and used misleading health-related information to help sell more cans.

Today's settlement specifically addresses concerns about the marketing of Sparks. Although MillerCoors denied acting improperly, it agreed to make some major changes. These include:

  • Stop using images that imply power (battery-themed +/- symbols on the can) and that appeal to underage youth to market the product.
  • Not renewing its contract with William Ocean, a MillerCoors-sponsored air guitarist who back flips onto an opened can of Sparks at his shows.
  • Immediately discontinue the Sparks website.
  • Reformulate Sparks brand products without caffeine or other stimulants and agreed not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future.

    A recent study found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and injury.

    If you're planning on switching to a Sparks alternative, think again. This past May, Anheuser-Busch announced they would stop producing alcoholic energy drinks, including Tilt and Bud Extra. With the elimination of Sparks from the market, nearly 85% of all alcoholic energy drinks that were available at the start of this year will no longer be sold.
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