I grew up in a Coca-Cola household, so my Mountain Dew-based memories are not ones of taste, but longing. It’s the bad boy of beverages, to the eyes of a child a glowing beacon for adventure. To my mother, Mountain Dew looked more like neglect. I rarely did the Dew growing up, but anytime the Dew was done it likely had to do with the award-worthy brand management from PepsiCo in the late 90s. It was extreme without the e, dangerous yet approachable. Misunderstood? Maybe.
When it comes to the actual enjoyment of a Mountain Dew, I genuinely have no clue where I land. So, today I intend to review the experience of drinking a Mountain Dew as a 31-year old.
I will begin at 11am and plan to finish drinking the 20oz bottle by 1pm. To prepare, I have eaten a breakfast of scrambled eggs plus a piece of sourdough toast. With breakfast I also drank one cup of coffee. I felt mixed about drinking the coffee and questioned if it would throw off this Dew drinking adventure, but here’s my logic:
- Without morning caffeine I would be devoid of life.
- While my standards are low, doing the Dew before 11am feels unsound.
That said, I typically drink two cups of coffee by noon so from a caffeine standpoint, I’ll be breaking even (91mg of caffeine for 20oz of Dew, 95mg for cup of coffee). However, I drink my coffee black because I have something to prove, so I look forward to the sugar from the Dew to help me feel either alive or a new sense of disappointment. Either way, that’s a new feeling, baby.
I should add that I researched the caffeine and sugar contents before acquiring my bottle of Mountain Dew. When searching for the sugar amount, the first result Google gifted me showed the low (or technically high?) marks from the Daily Meal’s review.
Ominous, but I’m now thankful to not be drinking a Mellow Yellow instead.
I unbuckle the safety harness attached to my workday,
11:00am – It Begins
I have started with roughly 1⁄3 of the bottle poured into a cup to make sure I pace myself. I’m not doing this out of caution, but rather to make sure I appreciate the drink appropriately. Timing wise, it works out well. I’m watching an NFL game from 2017 in order to research for an episode of Rewinder, so I can just sit here taking notes on both football and my body’s Dewsponse simultaneously.
The first sip feels like stopping to say hello to someone you know you shouldn’t have a conversation with. There’s a familiarity to the taste that immediately spirals into a sense of regret. The syrup drags itself down my throat, forcing me to be aware of its slimy movements. I am thankful for one thing — the visual carbonation. There are enough bubbles fizzing around to confirm that this is not a flat soda. It just tastes flat due to how heavy the ingredients are.
With each new sip I’m greeted by the same cycle: flavor is ok, aftermath is not. If I wait too long between sips it enhances both of those qualities. The aftertaste worsens as it lingers, a layer coating everything it touches. But then the moment I sip again, it vanishes, and because the new liquid has removed the curse it tastes like a miracle cure.
11:17am – Umm…
I finished my first cup of Dew and was trying to watch the football game. I zoned the fuck out and only refocused when I felt something kind of weird in my chest? For lack of better words, it felt like a little flutter. I’m going to walk the block because maybe this is just the soda hollering for more activity? Plus, I genuinely feel drowsier now than I did less than 20 minutes ago. It may be completely unrelated to the drink and just a 2020 thing.
11:29am – Whoops
Ok, so, I didn’t check my calendar. I currently have 8oz of Mountain Dew inside me and an 11:30 meeting where I am meeting a new member of company leadership. This must be what Shaun White feels like all the time.
12:00pm – Act II
Meeting went well. I felt like a dog greeting a stranger on the street. I was excited and had fuel to drive me through introductions (which I believe I crushed despite my previously-covered limitations). I then talked a lot and can’t say whether I added much to the general dialog but again, that might not be related to the Dew.
I’ve poured another cup. This one I will attempt to drink without concentrating on every sip.
12:14pm – I Hate This
I hate this.
12:29pm – Another Meeting
This time I screwed up in a different way. I have my standing chat with our graphics wizard Phil, but I also have another 10oz to drink before 1pm. I know it’s a bar I set myself, but I must clear it for the sake of content. Also, I want to be done with this. I honestly don’t feel good. I wouldn’t say parts of me “hurt,” but I am physically aware of my stomach and the back of my brain — not quite a headache, but not not a headache.
I’m thankful this meeting was just a check-in. As someone who grew up in New Jersey, Phil came to age without being sheltered from doing the Dew as he wished. I confided in him, my fool’s errand; he chastised me appropriately. I managed to finish the 20 ounces before 1pm and felt a sense of relief that I could move on with the rest of my day.
1:37pm – Regret
I have settled into the place from which the rest of my day will take place. I need more than a nap — I need a new night’s sleep. My stomach is genuinely displeased and the amount of sugar/syrup/detritus within me can be felt. I now actually have a headache.
These are all the things that I felt were possible in my mind, but expected to avoid because they seemed too cliché. Surely this body that I already don’t treat well can handle — possibly even enjoy — this reintroduction of a soda. It hasn’t. I regret this experiment. Let’s get it over with.
The best part of Mountain Dew is how it smells milliseconds before reaching your lips. I think that faint memory is hung onto by your tongue for an equally short amount of time, then it’s pretty downhill from there. I won’t continue to bash it because if you’ve made it this far then you’ve got a good sense of how I’m feeling. What I will say is before I had my first sip I had a sense of nostalgia that now feels misplaced, yet capable of returning years from now. Those brand gurus over at PepsiCo have done well so far, but my one tip for them would be to sell Mountain Dew in one ounce capsules. To me, that would be the perfect amount to satisfy the rare craving without bundling it with regret. Until then, those qualities will be a one-two punch.