Mountain Dew is a carbonated soft drink brand produced and owned by PepsiCo.
This highly-caffeinated, electric-colored drink is marketed toward a young crowd looking to live life onthe edge.
The ingredient that gives Mountain Dew its electric color is the synthetic food dye tartrazine, better known as Yellow 5. This dye is FDA approved to give foods a boost of yellow color, and it’s used in somewhat high quantities in a soda as vibrant as Dew.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a 12-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew contains 54 mg of caffeine. That might not seem like that much when compared to a 12-ounce Starbucks coffee’s 235 mg (ahem, sorry, we meant to say Tall coffee). But, when compared to Coca-Cola Classic’s 34 mg and Pepsi’s 38 mg, it’s a big jump.
The original Mountain Dew was a caffeine-free, clear colored, lemon-lime flavored beverage — similar to 7UP or Sprite.
The original formula was invented in 1940 by Tennessee beverage bottlers Barney and Ally Hartman.
Soft drinks were sold regionally in the 1930s, and the Hartmans had difficulty in Knoxville obtaining their preferred soda to mix with liquor, preferably whiskey, so the two developed their own.
Barney and Ally struggled to get Dew to take off, and they even tried to sell it to Coca-Cola in the early days.
They eventually found a buyer in Virginia’s Tip Corporation, who modified the drink to make it taste more citrus-forward. The changes worked, and the highly flavorful, super caffeinated beverage became such a big hit that Pepsi bought it in 1964.
Originally a 19th-century slang term for whiskey, especially Highland Scotch whiskey, the Mountain Dew name was trademarked for the soft drink in 1948.
Early bottles were printed with the words: “Yahoo Mountain Dew…It’ll tickle your innards.” The bottles were green and had a cartoon drawing of a hillbilly moonshiner with a gun. This design lasted until the mid 1960s.
For decades, Mountain Dew popularized itself using the image of a barefoot, gun-toting, moonshine-swigging Appalachian man named Grandpappy.
The company’s catchphrases, too, relied on the stereotypes surrounding country life in Tennessee – the most popular slogan, for a time, was “It’ll tickle yore innards.”
After PepsiCo bought the soft drink Mountain Dew in 1964, they commissioned a set of advertisements featuring a “Good Old Mountain Dew” – based jingle and the drink’s hillbilly mascot.
In the 1970s, the company tried to rebrand its image, repurposing its barefoot reputation to appeal more to young people living in cities.
Once Pepsi started making Doritos, the company also created marketing techniques to promote the two brands together. Mountain Dew has continued to be associated with the corn-based chip ever since.
Mountain Dew may not resemble its original formula. The citrus taste in Personal Setup was much lighter, and the green color wasn’t added until much later.
Between the 1940s and 1980s there was only one variety of Mountain Dew, which was citrus-flavored and caffeinated in most markets.
Diet Mountain Dew was introduced in 1988, followed by Mountain Dew Red, which was introduced and discontinued in 1988.
In 2001, a cherry-flavored variant called Code Red debuted. This product line extension trend has continued to this day, with expansion into specialty, limited time production, region-specific, and retailer-specific (Taco Bell, 7-Eleven, and KFC) variants of Mountain Dew.
Mountain Dew Amp is an energy drink. At the time of its introduction in 2001, Amp Energy was initially distributed under the Mountain Dew soft drink brand. Beginning in 2009, it was produced and labeled under its own stand-alone trademark name, but in 2018, reverted to using Mountain Dew branding. The beverage is packaged in both 16-ounce and 24-ounce cans, and is sold in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Lebanon. As of 2009, Amp Energy was the number four energy drink brand in the US in terms of overall retail sales.
The computer worm Code Red was so named because the person who discovered the worm was drinking this version of Mountain Dew at the time.
The tune “Good Old Mountain Dew” has been recorded and covered by many artists, including The Stanley Brothers, Grandpa Jones and Willie Nelson. In its original bluegrass context, “Mountain Dew” refers to moonshine.
In the musical Be More Chill, green Mountain Dew activates the SQUIP, a tiny super-computer in a pill that tells the user what to do, in order to help them achieve their goals. Mountain Dew Red shuts them off. In the musical, it is said that this is the reason for Mountain Dew Red being discontinued.