Is anybody else continually fascinated by the endless parade of new Mountain Dew varieties? Like… most sodas have a few variants, sure. You’ve got Wild Cherry Pepsi. You’ve got Vanilla Coke. You’ve got Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. But Mountain Dew has made a name for itself through a willingness to throw any goddamn flavor into a can and loudly boast, “That’s right, motherfucker, we’ve got berries or something in here now! You can only get it at participating Arby’s locations in the month of June; guzzle it down!”
It started innocently enough with the introduction of Code Red in the Year of Our Lord 2001; it was a basic cherry flavor, as you’d expect from any other soda. And it was good! I love me some Code Red. Then came Live Wire in 2003, an orange-flavored Mountain Dew and the preferred drink of murderers and thieves–yes, I said it, Live Wire is vile, deal with it. I have no problem with a good orange soda, but Mountain Dew Live Wire is not and never has been a good orange soda.
Still, orange is a reasonable fruit flavor! As was the next flavor outing, Pitch Black, which debuted its grape twist on the Mountain Dew flavor in 2004. Alright, so, you’ve got cherry, orange, and grape; the essentials. Basically, somebody at the Mountain Dew factory was just pouring a can of Slice into the Mountain Dew vat every few years. Inventive? No. Delicious? Mostly! Code Red was solid, and Pitch Black was excellent but, sadly, too good for this awful world.
It’s what happened next that changed things. Taco Bell introduced a special, exclusive variant: the now-legendary Baja Blast.
I think we can safely say that this is where Dew stepped off the path of virtue. I mean, first of all, a Taco Bell exclusive beverage? Madness. But more importantly, what was the flavor twist? Tropical lime. So… it’s a lemon-lime soda, and you’re ‘mixing it up’ by… adding more lime? Bullshit. This drink is a sin.
Things were mercifully quiet for a time. “Maybe Dew has learned their lesson,” a sane man may have though. “Maybe the flavor wars are over.” But no; no. They had only begun, and in 2007, they would select a new battlefield: the “videos games” popular among the youth. We were on the cusp of Game Fuel.
On the one hand, props to Dew for knowing it’s audience. The figured out that “Mountain Dew and Cheetos” was a punchline about the unhealthy eating habits of ‘gamerz’ and capitalized on that by producing a product that Wikipedia labels Mountain Dew Citrus Cherry, but no, fuck you, Wikipedia, it was Mountain Dew Game Fuel.
But wait, really? It was citrus and cherry flavored? Huh. I was never totally clear on the flavor. I don’t think I ever looked at the label. It was good, though, and no wonder–they basically bottled a Soda Fountain Suicide. Mix Orange Slice and Mountain Dew to get Live Wire; mix Cherry Slice and Mountain Dew to get Code Red; mix Live Wire and Code Red to get Game Fuel.
Do people know what I’m talking about when I say Slice? Would Fanta be the more recognizable fruit soda? Whatever. I grew up on Slice.
Anyway, after that, we had DEWmocracy in 2008, and that’s where this thing really went off the fuckin’ rails. Three variants were released, with the public voting on which would become a Forever Dew. We had Revolution (wild berry), Supernova (strawberry melon), and the ultimate winner, Voltage (blue raspberry). And I have to say: all pretty good! Damn, I bet I could get down on some Supernova if it were still around. That sounds great. Sadly, it exists now only as a memory.
A second DEWmocracy promotion hit in 2010, presenting Distortion (lime again–seriously?! You already have a lime flavor! I bet Taco Bell was pissed), Typhoon (strawberry pineapple; shit, that sounds awesome, I think this is the one I wanted to win at the time), and ultimate champion White Out (which is, apparently, “smooth citrus.” What does that mean? My wife describes this drink as tasting “like a ghost” and I don’t disagree).
Oh, and it turns out, there’s a ton of exclusive flavors I’ve never heard of. Villa Pizza had Electric Apple and Extreme Pomegranate, while 7-Elven had the tropical punch-flavored Solar Flare, and I would suck down every one of those if I had either of those chains in my vicinity. Sam’s Club has Berry Monsoon, which is berry-and-lime flavored–sounds good, but I’m not buying a Sam’s Club membership just for that. Sweet Lightning is a peach-flavored variety that I accidentally got a KFC drive-thru, and let me tell you, they do not skimp on that peach taste. And I’m just now learning that Dollar General has a Maui Burst pineapple flavor?!
Frost Bite is honeydew, only at Walmart! Atomic Blue is sour lemonade and blueberry, only at Sheetz and Kum & Go! SOUTHERN SHOCK IS FRUIT PUNCH, ONLY AT BOJANGLE’S! THRASHED APPLE IS SOUR APPLE EXCLUSIVE TO KROGER! IT NEVER ENDS!
And hell, while we’re here, let’s talk about the seasonal varieties. We’ve had a different VooDew for the last three Halloweens; 2019 had candy corn, 2020 had “fruit candy explosion” which hey, is not a fucking flavor, and this year’s mystery flavor hasn’t been revealed but is absolutely for sure Sweet Tarts. And if you think any of that is wild, hold on to your ass, because this winter we’re getting Snap’d, which is going to be a gingerbread flavored Dew. Maybe it will pair well with Mountain Dew Cake-Smashed, the upcoming birthday cake flavor?!
There are a ton that aren’t around any more, too, like Cherry Fusion, which was just Code Red but… more cherry-y? There were a few other Game Fuel variants, and a bunch of movie tie-ins, like Darth Dew, Kryptonite Ice, and the upcoming Riddler’s Brew.
The only question is: what will we get next? My guess: Mountain Dew Jacked Cocoa, a chocolate variant.