I don’t know when the hell I became the Pop Bunker food editor (likely soon after I realized that no one was going to read articles about Americal Idol), but I felt I had to do an article about one of the true “geek drinks”, Mountain Dew. Not to sound like the old guy I normally do during most of my articles, but back in my day we only had one Mountain Dew. It was yellow, it came in a green can, and was fully spelled out “Mountain Dew”. Diet Mountain Dew came out later, but really – what kid drinks diet soda? At least in the mid 80s?
Fast forward to today. Currently in the United States there are NINETEEN different variations of Mountain Dew (or MTN DEW as the logo currently reads, because when you’re THIS EXTREME, spelling is HARD). From traditional varieties sold by the can and bottle, fountain versions sold at certain fast food franchises, and semi-frozen slushes, Mountain Dew somewhere along the line transformed from “tasty citrus beverage” to “Pepsi’s Fanta.”
A few years back, Pepsico announced a DEWmocracy event, where three flavors of Mountain Dew would be released and an online vote would determine which one stayed on as a permanent flavor. The winner, a flavor called “Voltage”, combines the flavors of raspberry, citrus, ginseng, and battery acid. Last year, Pepsico figured they’d try again, this time without trying to inject ginseng into every flavor and instead trying to go with more traditional soda flavors. Despite my negative feelings towards the non-Dew-flavored Dews, I still had to give each one a shot. Here’s what I found.
There really aren’t enough milky white soft drinks out there, are there? The ones that do exist (like the beforementioned Squirt) are usually hidden in cans or in Squirt’s case a green bottle. WhiteOut bucks that trend by flaunting its pearl-colored appearance in all its glory.
I keep mentioning Squirt because that’s almost exactly what WhiteOut tastes like. WhiteOut is pushed as a “citrus” beverage, but let’s face it – there aren’t too many “citrus” beverages that would qualify that either aren’t already in use by Pepsi (Sierra Mist – Lemon & Lime) or by Mountain Dew itself (original Dew is flavored by orange juice, believe it or not) or that would fall under “tropical”, which we’ll visit a little later. So Pepsi went with grapefruit, which is the main flavor of Squirt.
The verdict? Well, I like Squirt, so it makes sense that I’d like WhiteOut. The fact that it’s not as sweet as other Dews combined with the citrus makes it pretty refreshing. I’ll say though that it’s one that works better cold though.
I grew up on Long Island, and my hometown supermarket was King Kullen. King Kullen, like most supermarkets, carried a store brand soda which you could get for 25 cents a can, or for the low low price of 99 cents for a three liter bottle. Most of the flavors (and they had every kind) were not-as-good variations of their traditional brand name competitors. There were a few exceptions though, and one was fruit punch. You see, there weren’t any “fruit punch” sodas, with the exception of Tahitian Treat (bottled by 7-UP and not found everywhere) and stuff labeled “refrescos”, so even if this sucked, we had nothing to compare it to. The stuff was good – left a little bit of an aftertaste, but otherwise tasty.
That was my first thought the moment I had a sip of Typhoon. I didn’t think it was a bad taste at all, but the thought just went back to 99 cent three liter bottles of King Kullen Fruit Punch. And really, when a 2-liter bottle of Dew retails for around a buck and a half, that’s not the memory you want to recall.
I have to admit, the Distortion flavor of Dew is the most original. To my knowledge, there is no lime-flavored soda on the market today, at least in mass production in the United States. There’s kind of a reason for this though – lime isn’t really that good of a stand-alone flavor.
Lime is one of those things that bartenders throw into water to give it flavor, or diet soda to mark which one is the one you don’t want. More recently, beverage companies have been pushing their drinks with lime, from Diet Coke and Pepsi to Bud Light. I love Cherry Limeade from Sonic. These things are existing products that are added to by the taste of lime. A touch of lime. A smidgen of lime, even.
Distortion punches you in the face with lime. It makes you say “GODDAMN THAT’S LIME”. Then it makes you realize why there hasn’t been a major name lime soda since Moxie was popular (the word or the beverage – take your pick). Lime just doesn’t work all by itself. It’s a great supporting character, but it can’t handle the lead role. There will be people who like it, but unless you live in Oklahoma (the only state where Distortion is leading in DEWmocracy) you’re probably going to be in the minority of those who drink it, so you’re going to have to stock up if you want it.
In all, each of the three flavors bring something to the table, but of them, I can see myself buying WhiteOut on a regular basis more than I can see buying any other flavors, which is why I’ve voted for it for DEWmocracy. As of the time of this article, WhiteOut has more of the popular vote, while Typhoon holds more of the states, with Distortion acting like a good little Perot and getting in the way. With WhiteOut holding a strong lead in some states (including a whopping 58% of California), I expect WhiteOut to hold on, so if you’re a fan of the other two drinks, stock up soon – voting ends June 14th.