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An alcopop is an alcoholic beverage made with fruit juices and other flavorings which tend to conceal the alcohol content of the drink behind a sweet, fruity flavor. Such drinks are made with a variety of alcohols and flavorings, and many liquor stores and large markets carry alcopops in their alcohol section, offering quite an array of choices. The proliferation of alcopop products has been a cause for concern for some people, who fear that they appeal to minors and that they are potentially dangerous even to adults, as they pack a hidden alcoholic punch.
Many alcopop brands are made with a malt beverage base, although it is also possible to find alcopops blended with wine or spirits. Many alcopop products are also blended with sparkling sodas, to create an effervescent mouthfeel. The “pop” in the name is a reference to the fact that alcopop is often sweet and fizzy, like soda pop; it also conjures up an image of a lollipop, a classically youthful treat.
Various versions of the alcopop have been around for quite a long time, as people have often cut alcohols with sweet fruit juices and soda to mask the taste or dilute the alcohol. However, alcopops tend to have an alcohol content which is similar to straight alcoholic drinks, something which many consumers are unaware of. Some consumers choose to drink alcopop because they are under the impression that the alcohol content is lower, thanks to the deceptively sweet and fruity flavor, and this can result in unexpected intoxication.
These drinks are often sold in single serving bottles, making them convenient for parties and other events, and they are available in a wide of flavors from simple hard lemonade to “razzleberry.” The packaging of alcopop products often emphasis a youthful, fun image, as do advertisements used to market such products. Alcopop tends to be especially popular with the younger generation, appearing in many colleges and at bars which target a youthful crowd.
Some consumer advocacy organizations have accused the liquor industry of marketing alcopop to people who are below the drinking age, suggesting that alcopop appeals to people in high school or even middle school. In some communities, laws addressing this issue have been passed, in an attempt to restrict access to alcohol by minors, and to make it clear that alcopop products are alcoholic beverages. The alcohol industry vehemently denies these accusations, stating that while such products are marketed to youth, they respect applicable laws about the legal drinking age.
Sadly, the rule of the marketplace is "Let the buyer beware". However, experience tells us that many young people develop a false belief that these drinks are perfectly harmless. When in truth they cause intoxication (if & when) they are abused. Lowering the drinking age may seem perfectly appropriate for some, but our collective experience tell us that this is very likely going to bring about some very undesirable sideffects.