Here at Grist we like to think we’re looking out for you guys, so before you stock up on refreshing sippables for your summer potlucks here’s a small checklist of beverage bandits looking to pee in your pool party. Cheers!

Fuze bottlePhoto courtesy racineur via Flickr

Fuze Refresh “Peach-Mango”

The only thing more confusing than Peach-Mango Fuze’s icy tundra photo shoot is the origin of its healthy peach-mango claim. This tropical drink lacks both peaches and mangos! How do they get away with this? By numbing your inquisitive taste buds with an overwhelming amount of sugar and crystalline fructose, a sweetening agent the FDA has yet to award its official GRAS designation: Generally Recognized as Safe. We are specifically skeeved out by this.

If you dare, take a closer look at the ingredients here.

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Let us introduce you to Kool-Aid’s wicked step cousin, Tang, which owes its citrus complexion to dyes such as Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Sorry to say, but both Yellow 5 and 6 are azo compounds, which are sulfonated versions of Sudan I, a possible carcinogen. Yellow 5 can also induce an allergic reaction in people with aspirin intolerance. 

This is highly regrettable as we recall with fondness the gallons of Tang we drank during one Thanksgiving in Mexico.








Fresca.Photo courtesy existentialism via Flickr


What the Fresca? Back in the day when big beverage companies began poisoning people, Fresca’s toxin of choice was a chemical used in fire retardants (sodium cyclamate). It was replaced, much to the dismay of people prone to self-combustion. But Fresca continues to boldly combine its signature grapefruit juice concentrate with potassium benzoate and artificial sweeteners.

Potassium benzoate, the potassium salt of benzoic acid, is a food preservative often used in fruit juice and sparkling drinks. It’s also used to produce that whistle in many fireworks, which may explain why, in the E.U., it is not recommended for consumption by children.

But hey, at least you’re getting some zero-calorie grapefruit juice, right? 

Cold Stone shake.Photo:

Cold Stone’s PB & C Shake (“Gotta Have It” Size)

Gotta Have it Size? More like, “Gonna Have a Shake Baby Size.” This innocent-looking sludge packs 2,010 calories, 151 grams of fat (66 grams saturated), and 155 grams of sugar.

The Cold Stone killer could give someone with an immortal metabolism like Lance Armstrong diabetes. Just looking at the PB & C inspired us here at Grist to invest in an electricity generating stationary bike … Sorry solar ping pong table, but you just won’t help us burn enough energy to justify one of these.






Four LokoPhoto courtesy Joe Mud via Flickr

Four Loko

You may have seen these cans popping up in some of your local convenience stores and gas stations. If not, blame Four Loko’s clever urban camouflage design. This alcoholic energy drink is like the bastard child of an orgy involving a Steel Reserve 40 ounce and about four Red Bulls hopped up on Crystal Lite. With 12 percent ABV and enough sugar and caffeine to fuel Justin Bieber’s 12th birthday, it is only a matter of time before the FDA and others throw the Loko in the Looney Bin.


Smirnoff bros.Photo courtesy dpstyles via Flickr

Smirnoff Ice

And finally, Smirnoff Ice. This mystery malt beverage, and choice drink of teenage girls everywhere, doesn’t have to disclose its ingredients according to the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. That’s a little scary. But if undisclosed ingredients aren’t enough to bar Smirnoff Ice from your backyard picnics this summer, how about the threat of public humiliation and “frat” style demoralization? Here are a few examples of ways to save you and your “bros” from ever willingly drinking a Smirnoff Ice again.


Hungry for more? Be sure to check out 12 things you should never put in your mouth.