Caffeinated Campus

A new line of beverages is taking over the St. John’s campus, and they may soon be taking the place of the colas, iced teas and coffees that many students drink every day. The Coca-Cola “family of energy drinks,” as it has been advertised on campus, has quickly become popular around the cafeterias of St. John’s.

The new line of energy drinks include such names as Rockstar, Von Dutch, Tab, Vault, and Coca Cola’s new flagship energy drink, Full Throttle. In the marketing campaigns, the drink producers claim that ingredients such as taurine, guarana and caffeine give those who drink them a boost of energy, fighting both mental and physical fatigue. The opinions of St. John’s students on that subject, however, are mixed.

“It works for about the first 10 minutes,” said senior management major Joe Biondo, “then I get really tired.”

Biondo said he was drinking Full Throttle for only the second time. He said that in the past he had always drunk Red Bull, the Austrian-made drink that initiated the energy-cocktail craze in America, but may switch to Full Throttle because “it’s bigger, and it costs less money.”

Asked about the main reason he drinks energy drinks, Biondo responded, “I just like the taste, really, but I think coffee does a better job [at energizing].”

Sophomore biology/chemistry major Anastasia Floros believes that the Full Throttle and Red Bull she drinks does, in fact, give her a substantial boost of energy.

“It’s a little better than drinking coffee,” she said, referring to how much energy she feels the drinks give her.

Floros said that she drinks some kind of energy drink approximately three or four times a week, and that while Red Bull is her favorite, she likes Full Throttle.

She also said that she has noticed the abundance of choices available on campus.

“There’s so many kinds now,” she said, but she understands Coke’s marketing strategy. “It’s good marketing to put them on college campuses. College students are always running around, they’re always busy.”

Often lost in the discussion of energy drinks is the possibility that they could have adverse health effects, a concern raised by numerous scientists and nutritionists. Although they are generally considered safe when used in moderation, Maher Karam-Hage, medical director of the Chelsea Arbor Addiction Treatment Center at the University of Michigan said that this is not always the case.

“[Energy drinks] get to be problematic when used in combination with alcohol or when used before sports or with kids,” he said.

It is also popular for young people to create energy drink “mixers” by combining them with vodka or other types of alcohol.

Several deaths have also been attributed to such improper usage of energy drinks, including three people who died in Sweden in 1991 after drinking Red Bull. Two of them had mixed the drinks with alcohol, and one had used Red Bull during an extended period of strenuous exercise.

Several countries have actually banned the sale of Red Bull, including Denmark, France and Malaysia, because of concerns over the large amounts of caffeine in the drink. Cans of some of the drinks sold at St. John’s also carry a warning, stating that they are “Not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, or those sensitive to caffeine.”

Another criticism of the drinks is that they simply do not work. Mark Kantor, a professor of family and consumer sciences and nutrition at the University of Maryland, is one of these critics.

“These drinks are marketing ploys,” he said. “I’m not aware of any scientific data that they do what they say they’re going to do. They don’t give you more energy.”