Drink ‘Spykes’ Dispute

By Martin Dinh

The latest buzz comes in a small two-ounce container nearly
identical to a nail polish bottle with the variety of bright
fluorescent colors of the bottle luring you in. This bottle
contains a drink consisting of caffeine, ginseng, guarana and 12
percent alcohol, which are many of the ingredients found in energy
drinks. Spykes is a new malt beverage that can be taken as a shot
or as a flavoring for beer.

The Anheuser Busch drink comes in four flavors: mango, melon,
lime and hot chocolate. Anheuser Busch is using the word of mouth
technique to advertise and to help gain exposure for Spykes, which
is now available in more than 30 states.

“We know that today’s adults want more flavors, more variety in
their alcohol beverages (…) Spykes delivers to that need for
flavor,” said John Giarrante, Anheuser Busch product manager for
Spykes, in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

Small enough to conceal in a compact purse and at the convenient
price of less than $2 a bottle, this alcoholic beverage has stirred
up controversy amongst parents, who see it as a threat. Activists
see it as a way of marketing to underaged drinkers.

“Spykes is a predatory move to attract underage drinkers,” said
Joseph Califano Jr., a chairman of the think tank National Center
on Addiction and Substance Abuse, to the Washington City Paper.

The drink’s dazzling colors, fruitful flavors and pocket-sized
containers have parents worried especially because prom season is
right around the corner. These miniature bottles are easy to slip
into a tuxedo pocket and are easy enough to smuggle in a make-up

Some Cal Poly students agreed that this is just another
alcoholic drink. They also believe that an I.D must be presented,
so it’s the responsibility of the person selling the alcohol to
follow proper procedures.

“Teenagers will get alcohol however they can,” says Samantha
English, a post-graduate English student.

Michael Acuna, a third-year kinesiology student, sees it as
“more of a girl product,” due to its characteristics.

The chance of finding this drink in Southern California is rare
but it is distributed in many states throughout the country. States
such as Missouri, Illinois and Oregon have already attempted to ask
for a recall on Spykes.

In the past critics argued that “malternatives” like Smirnoff
Ice, Skyy Blue and Mike’s Hard Lemonade were also intended to
appeal to teenagers.

Francine Katz, Anheuser Busch’s vice president of communications
and consumers affairs, said that her company has spent more than
$500 million since 1982 to prevent alcohol abuse which includes
fighting against underage drinking, according to the St. Louis

Spykes was made available nationwide in 2006. Will this latest
buzz leave a lasting hangover?

Martin Dinh can be reached by e-mail at arts@thepolypost.com or
by phone at (909) 869-3744.

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