The blackout rage gallon (BORG) rose to viral fame in 2020 and has since become the Gen Z drink of choice.
The BORG is a gallon jug filled with half water and half alcohol and flavored with electrolytes and caffeine mixers. Some say this is a safer approach to binge drinking, but many health and safety questions remain.
One Kent State student, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid being associated with binge drinking, explained how he prepares a BORG.
“You basically get a gallon of water and you pour off some of the water and then you put your liquor of choice in the gallon,” he said. “Then you can add in flavoring like MIO, and then you add liquid IV.”
The student said the drink became popular because of certain benefits.
“I think that the reason they were so popular for these fests is because it was technically a closed container because you could put the lid on it,” he said. “It’s a lot safer than carrying around an open drink.”
The student said having a closed container prevents people from spiking drinks, making binge drinking much safer.
While BORG consumers are in control of how much alcohol they add, the typical ratio for filling BORGs is 50% alcohol, an amount that can be addicting if it becomes habitual, according to Kent City Health Commissioner Joan Seidel.
“The fact is that if you’re having to do that, I think shows that you’re intending to drink too much,” she said. “[If] I’m going to drink a half a gallon of alcohol mixed with electrolytes, I’m still drinking a half a gallon of alcohol, even though there is something that’s going to prevent the hangover, that’s not going to prevent addiction.”
“It was technically a closed container because you could put the lid on it. It’s a lot safer than carrying around an open drink.”Kent State student
Seidel said any form of binge drinking can be unhealthy and can lead to addiction.
“Alcohol can be addictive, and the more you drink, the easier it could be to form an addiction,” she said. “Also it impairs judgment. We don’t always make the best decisions when our alcohol level is up.”
Seidel said people that are intoxicated can be a risk to themselves and others by making poor decisions like drunk driving or getting hurt from falling down.
Consuming alcohol is widespread among college students. According to a survey from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “almost 53 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 drank alcohol in the past month and about 33 percent engaged in binge drinking during that same time frame.”
“Alcohol can be addictive, and the more you drink, the easier it could be to form an addiction.”Joan Seidel
Even so, the student I spoke with said since college students are likely to participate in party culture no matter what, BORGs are one solution to make drinking less harmful. A move he said is a step in the right direction.
“In the past […] there’s been lots of really crazy traditions that involve alcohol like chugging things or the big garbage cans full of jungle juice and it’s kind of scary to think about taking some kind of drink that somebody else made or that somebody could have tampered with,” he said. “The whole idea of the BORG has really combatted those issues, and I think that it’s nice to not have to worry about those kinds of things when you’re supposed to be having fun.”
Additionally, the student said the BORG is one way Gen Z is taking control of their alcohol consumption. For him, the BORG helps him drink smarter.
“I am a very, very big advocate for not overdoing it when I drink. I have had plenty of experiences where I have overdone it and it’s not fun,” he said. “I think that this invention of the BORG is actually a really smart thing. I’ve not had any bad experiences with it thus far.”
Seidel admitted that party culture is hard to avoid, particularly in college, but she warned that binge drinking at a young age can lead to dangerous habits.
“It’s kind of scary to think about taking some kind of drink that somebody else made or that somebody could have tampered with.”Kent State student
“Having been young once and having attended college and college parties, I’m not unfamiliar with binge drinking,” she said. “I know often when you’re young you feel like you’ll never have a problem. This will never affect you or your friends, but I think binge drinking can set you up for problems throughout your life, so people should really think hard about it.”
Seidel said it is important to be aware of the addictive qualities of alcohol, and if you are struggling with addiction, reach out to a doctor or addiction advocacy organization.
For now and in the future, the student said it is important to drink responsibly.
“If you’re going to be ingesting alcohol, you might as well be doing it in a controlled safe way that kind of combats possible health risks at the same time,” he said.