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Blast, a fruity Pabst drink, gets scrutiny. Whom is Snoop Dogg selling it to?

State attorneys general say a new fruity alcoholic drink called Blast is being marketed to underage drinkers. Will the Pabst creation, promoted by hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg, be yanked off shelves?

By Ron SchererStaff writer / April 22, 2011

Rapper Snoop Dogg has come under fire for promoting Blast, a fruity high-alcohol drink that 18 state attorneys general have asked to be taken off the market.

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New York

State attorneys general have a new target: an alcoholic fruit drink made by Pabst Brewing Co. that they are terming a “Binge-in-a-Can.”

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The Pabst product is called “Blast by Colt 45,” has a much higher alcohol content than beer and comes in such flavors as grape, strawberry watermelon and blueberry pomegranate. The fruit flavors, as well as the marketing, is oriented towards youthful drinkers, maintain the AGs, who have a history of getting such products removed from the market.

Pabst, in a statement, denied it is marketing the product to underage drinkers.

On Thursday, 18 attorneys general – both Republicans and Democrats and from a wide range of states from California to Iowa to Massachusetts – sent a letter to Pabst asking it to take Blast off the market. Sales of the product began this month.

Blast contains 12 percent alcohol compared with 4 percent to 6 percent for most beers. It is being promoted on hip-hop radio stations, at concerts, and by popular hip-hop/rap artist Snoop Dogg. According to the state AGs, each can of the product, which comes as large as 23.5 ounces, is equal to drinking as much as five servings of alcohol.

“The problem with this product is that it is marketed at kids, young African-American children,” says Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, who is leading the AGs’ effort to end production of the product. “It’s being marketed through Facebook and Twitter.”

'Progressive adult beverages' booming

The introduction of the product comes at a time of high sales growth for what the industry is calling “progressive adult beverages.” Some of these have combined caffeine and alcohol and have subsequently been pulled off the market after complaints by attorneys general and consumer groups. According to a web presentation by Nick Osborne, Pabst’s marketing director, sales of these beverages grew by 17.4 percent last year and 8 out of 10 new brands were in this category.

“It’s not your typical consumer for malt liquor, it’s much broader,” he said in a January presentation to Pabst’s distributors.

In describing Blast, the chairman of Pabst, Dean Metropoulous, called it a “uniquely positioned product.”

The company then described a marketing campaign that appears to be heavily aimed at the African-American community because of the campaign’s heavy use of hip-hop concerts and radio stations.

“It’s bad because they are using hip-hop to target the predominately black community,” says the Rev. Paul Scott, founder of the Messianic Afrikan Nation ministry in Durham, N.C., in an interview.

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