Doctors and the FDA Aren’t So Sure the New Snortable Chocolate Powder Is Safe

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Coco Loko)

If snortable chocolate energy powder sounds like something a cocaine-addicted chocoholic would come up with in a fever dream, you might not be that far off.

Nick Anderson, the 29-year-old who created Coco Loko, started his company Legal Lean by selling a product by the same name intended to be a healthy version of “purple drank.” He also talks like this: “At first, I was like, ‘Is this a hoax?’ And then I tried it and it was like, okay, this is the future right here.”

There, he’s referring to Coco Loko, his snortable chocolate powder marketed as a legal way to get an energetic buzz. He first tried snortable chocolate powder in Europe, where it’s been gaining popularity, and where he asked himself if it was a hoax. In addition to cacao powder, the sweet snuff also contains three ingredients regularly found in energy drinks: gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana.

If it sounds healthy, the medical community very much doubts that’s the case.

“There are a few obvious concerns,” Dr. Andrew Lane, director of the Johns Hopkins Sinus Center, told the Washington Post. “First, it’s not clear how much of each ingredient would be absorbed into the nasal mucus membranes. And, well, putting solid material into your nose — you could imagine it getting stuck in there, or the chocolate mixing with your mucus to create a paste that could block your sinuses.”

Lane also noted how little information there is on such a product: “The question is, what are the risks of doing it? There’s no data, and as far as I can tell, no one’s studied what happens if you inhale chocolate into your nose. When I mention it to people, nobody’s ever heard of it.” 

Anderson, whose brother is an embarrassingly bad rapper that goes by Bezz Believe, describes the effects of Coco Loko as “almost like an energy-drink feeling, like you’re euphoric but also motivated to get things done.”

The product is not related to Four Loko, also known as a blackout in liquid form, though the similar name seems intentional.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to decide if they’ll regulate the product, which has been on shelves for two months now.

“In reaching that decision, FDA will need to evaluate the product labeling, marketing information, and/or any other information pertaining to the product’s intended use,” a spokesperson said.

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