Are New Nail Polish-Sized Liquor Bottles Attracting Teens?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 30, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The "Big Issue": They look like nail polishes, but they are not. They are mini bottles of malt liquor with a 12 percent alcohol content.

The maker of Spykes — that's what they're called, Spykes — says it is not marketing the booze to minors. But they are sure getting a lot of attention from the underage drinkers.

"Big Story's" Douglas Kennedy reports on the increasing concerns about teenagers getting their hands on — it almost looks like shampoo bottles.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. They are liquor bottles and they are made by Anheuser-Busch. And they are causing a big controversy. In fact, parents in a number of states are pushing to get them off the shelves before the start of prom season.


KENNEDY (VOICE OVER): They come in teeny bottles and critics say they are being marketed to teenyboppers.

JUDY VINING, COALITION TO PREVENT UNDERAGE DRINKING: Technically they can't say they are targeting teenagers, but we all know that this is the perfect drink for teens.

KENNEDY: They are called Spykes and they are the new alcoholic beverage from Anheuser-Busch, available in flavors like hot melon, spicy lime and chocolate, all with a zap of caffeine like an energy drink. Parent groups say they are sized, flavored and priced to encourage underage drinking.

So this drink costs 75 cents a pop. And you say that is a marketing ploy?

VINING: Of course, because every kid has a dollar, 75 cents. $1.25 is the highest price we have ever seen. It is concealable.

KENNEDY: Judy Vining is from the Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking which is now conducting an Internet campaign against Anheuser-Busch. A spokesman for the company denies the beer maker is marketed to teenagers, pointing out there's been no traditional advertising for Spykes.

"We are adamantly opposed to underage drinking and no company has done more to demonstrate its commitment to proactively fighting this problem than Anheuser-Busch."

Still, on their Internet site,, promotional language for the chocolate drink describes it as: "Chocolate any way you like it." And a posting on Spykes' message board reads, "This is awesome. The drinking age should be 18 years of age, not 21."

So Anheuser-Busch says the label on this drink clearly says it is alcohol, meaning nobody under 21 should be drinking it. What do you say to that?

VINING: We say absolutely no. Nobody under 21 should be drinking but they will be drinking. It is appealing to them.


KENNEDY: Vining says she is trying to warn other moms just how appealing they are. She also has a letter-writing campaign trying to stop stores from selling Spykes. She says, John, she doesn't want to see kids get in trouble during graduation.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, great story. Little bottles, watch out for them. Appreciate it.

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