Debate "Sparks" Over Buzz Worthy Beer
Chicagoist has a saying among friends, "no good night ever started with Sparks." While we are totally in favor of beer (obviously), we aren't totally on board with beer that tastes like orange candy and changes the color of your teeth and tongue. Apparently, neither is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Attorneys General from 28 other states.
Madigan and the other Attorneys General claim that the drinks and the marketing behind them are targeted at children, specifically that very impressionable Extreme category of teenagers. These are the kids who need that extra boost of energy to do extreme things like skateboarding and changing their Myspace picture. Open and shut case, teenagers love energy drinks, energy drinks + beer = new customers.
The primary culprits are Sparks, created by Miler Brewing Co., and Bud Extra, created by Anheuser-Busch. We have actually seen very little marketing for the drinks outside of bars. The Sparks cans are supposed to look like batteries (we aren't sure if you are supposed to associate Sparks with energy or battery acid), and they don’t immediately resemble alcoholic beverages. However, this could be true for a lot of drinks out there. We remember our mother accidentally purchasing Mike’s Hard Lemonade for us as kids. Honest mistake. As for the Budweiser Extra can, the logo is a giant Budweiser “B” to the “E” power, and we aren’t aware of any product that Anheuser-Busch manufactures under the Budweiser name that is safe for kids. The only major marketing campaign we know of is for Bud Extra that features the slogan “You can sleep when you’re 30.”
There probably is some truth to the drinks appealing to teenagers, but until we see a cartoon for Sparks on Saturday morning with Dora the Explorer knocking back a few, we don’t think there is any cause for alarm.