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Mountain Dew: 5 Best Flavors + 3 Alternatives

Mountain Dew has been a classic American soda since 1940. Since then it’s become one of the most popular drinks in the US, with 43 percent of Americans saying they like the taste. In this article, we’ll tell you all about what Mountain Dew is really like, some fun facts, and the best flavors to try.

For a start, Mountain Dew actually does contain a minute amount of orange juice. Many compare it to a lemon-lime flavored soda, but Mountain Dew really tastes unique.

If you’ve only ever had the original Mountain Dew you’re in for a treat as well — there are over 30 different flavors available, including a variety of sub-ranges. 

But what makes this citrusy, refreshing soda beverage so popular? There are a few things that make Mountain Dew, or Mtn Dew in some countries, unique.

What to Know about Mountain Dew Flavors

What to Know about Mountain Dew Flavors

There are lots of fun facts about the popular soda, many of which are related to its origins, below.

But there’s even more to Mountain Dew than immediately meets the eye: Originally it apparently tasted more like lemon and lime, while the modern flavoring is closer to some sort of undefined ‘citrus’ concoction.

Mountain Dew contains quite a lot of caffeine, with a 12 oz can sporting a whopping 54 mg of the potent ingredient.

This makes Mountain Dew more of an energy drink than a soda (or mixer for booze, see below.) It’s certainly the unicorn of drinks out there today.

The brand is well-known for its quirky, often adventurous marketing campaigns. Modern-day Mountain Dew is aimed at a younger demographic than the original, and its marketing strategies have sometimes been controversial.

In 2013, Mountain Dew created a bizarre ad about a goat who attacks a waitress over an apparent ‘addiction’ to the soda. Pepsico received so many complaints they had to eventually pull the ad from all channels.

There are Mountain Dew collectors who seek out limited edition and discontinued varieties. Some of these allegedly sell for quite a lot of money. Mountain Dew has also featured in a variety of TV shows, movies, and even some video games, making it a well-known pop culture item.

Origin of Mountain Dew

Origin of Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew originated in 1940s Tennessee, when bottlers Ally and Barney Hartman created it for use as a mixer. Back in the 1930s, soft drinks were only sold regionally.

The Hartmans found it difficult to purchase their preferred beverages to mix with whiskey. As a result, they decided to create their own.

This is interestingly also where Mountain Dew draws its name from, as ‘mountain dew’ was an 1800s slang phrase used for Scotch whiskey from the Highlands of Scotland.

Some sources also claim it was a phrase used for moonshine, or homemade whiskey. Either way, it was intended as a mixer for alcohol and got its name for the same.

Who Invented Mountain Dew

Who Invented Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew was first invented by the Hartman brothers of Tennessee.

Many years later, the Tip Corporation of Virginia bought over Mountain Dew. They revised the flavor of the original drink and re-launched it in 1961.

It was then purchased by Pepsico in 1964, when they bought over all of the Tip Corporation.

Ingredients of Typical Mountain Dew Drinks

Ingredients of Typical Mountain Dew Drinks

Typical Mountain Dew contains the following ingredients:

  • carbonated water
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • concentrated orange juice
  • citric acid
  • natural flavoring
  • sodium benzoate (a known preservative)
  • plenty of caffeine
  • sodium citrate
  • erythorbic acid (another preservative)
  • gum arabic
  • calcium disodium EDTA (which preserves the color of your drink)
  • brominated vegetable oil.

The latter has recently been removed from Mountain Dew’s list of ingredients. BVO has been linked to liver and heart problems, reproductive problems, as well as behavioral and developmental issues.

What Mountain Dew Tastes Like

What Mountain Dew Tastes Like

Nobody truly agrees on this. The original was supposed to taste like lemon and lime, and possibly did. The reformulated version we know today is a vaguely citrusy soda beverage with tons of caffeine.

In many ways the issue here is similar to trying to explain the flavor of Red Bull. Suffice to say Mountain Dew has many fans, was originally intended as a mixer for whiskey, and tastes like… Mountain Dew.

The Best Mountain Dew Flavors Ranked

The Best Mountain Dew Flavors Ranked

With so many flavors to choose from, it may be tricky to pinpoint just which are the best.

However, with some diehard Mountain Dew fans even collecting exclusive and limited edition flavors in exchange for good money, there are definitely top, ultra-popular flavors out there. Here are a few.

Mountain Dew Original

Mountain Dew Original

It comes as no surprise that the original Mountain Dew flavor is one of the most popular ones around. After all, it’s been around since the 1940s.

The unique citrusy flavor with its kick of caffeine is ranked pretty highly amongst loyal fans.

Mountain Dew Code Red

Mountain Dew Code Red

The Code Red flavor variety adds cherry flavoring to the original Mountain Dew.

It offers a satisfying blend of both tartness and cherry-sweetness with a pretty good cherry flavor. Some find the cherry flavor too intense, others love it for exactly that.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast

Mountain Dew Baja Blast

This was actually originally a flavor exclusive to Taco Bell. It’s a kind of tropical lime flavor with fizzy citrus and hints of tropical flavoring added in. If you like fruity tropical-type drinks, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Mountain Dew Voltage

Mountain Dew Voltage

Mountain Dew Voltage features bright blue coloring and a citrusy raspberry flavor. Fans love it for the blend of zesty citrus flavoring paired with sweet raspberries.

It’s sometimes described as tasting a bit like a berry-flavored sports beverage, but it’s definitely a soda.

Mountain Dew Pitch Black

Mountain Dew Pitch Black

Pitch Black is Mountain Dew’s grape-flavored soda variant. It features the Mountain Dew citrus flavoring paired with sweet grape.

Grape is one of those flavors which really divides fans across all markets — basically you either love or loathe it.

Mountain Dew Pitch Black is a nice, distinct grape flavor with a satisfying tanginess to cut through the sweet flavoring.

The Original Mountain Dew Flavors

The Original Mountain Dew Flavors

Mountain Dew originally started out with one flavor, though two basic varieties of this followed in the 1980’s, as well as an alternative to the original in 2009. Here we discover what made the originals unique, and why they’re all still around today.

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew

The original Mountain Dew was created in the 1940s and reformulated for its relaunch in 1961.

The new formulation was again changed in the ‘90’s, when high-fructose corn syrup replaced sugar.

In 2009, a ‘Mountain Dew Real Sugar’ variety was launched, which essentially re-released the original.

It was even known as Mountain Dew Throwback for a time, before it became a Mountain Dew standard and known under the new name.

Diet Mountain Dew

Diet Mountain Dew

Diet Mountain Dew contains no added sugars and is instead made with a mix of sweeteners.

These include sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and aspartame. Originally this one only contained aspartame.

The idea behind this one is of course a lower calorie content, though if you dislike the taste of sweeteners and ill effects they may (also) have on your health, you’ll want to skip this.

Diet Caffeine-Free Mountain Dew

Diet Caffeine-Free Mountain Dew

This concoction has been around since 1989, making it a late addition to the Mountain Dew originals.

It contains neither sugar nor caffeine, and is only available in some parts of the US.

Critics might argue that, if you’re drinking Mountain Dew, you’re doing it for the sweetness and caffeine content. However this is still sold today, so it must be doing something right.

Types of Mountain Dew

Types of Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew now sell a whopping nine different varieties across the world. This doesn’t even cover all of the flavors either, just the sub-categories and different ranges the brand has introduced over the years. Below are the 9 current ranges we were able to find.

Regular Varieties

Regular Varieties

Regular varieties of Mountain Dew include the originals, which are available in many countries across the world.

Some countries have different beverage regulations, so the formulations of Mountain Dew are different. Others just do not sell any of the range at all.

Sugar-Free Drinks

Sugar-Free Drinks

Mountain Dew is available in Zero Sugar, Diet, and sugar and caffeine free varieties. You can also get Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Major Melon, which is a watermelon-flavored drink.

Exclusives

Exclusives

A range of exclusive Mountain Dew flavors are available across the US.

For example, KFC have a Mountain Dew Sweet Lightning flavor featuring peach and honey flavoring.

Dollar General have Mountain Dew Maui Burst, Walmart have Mountain Dew Frost Bite, and Red Lobster used to produce a Dewgarita (a Mountain Dew-basedm margarita which has since been discontinued), just to name a few.

Kickstart

Kickstart

Mountain Dew’s Kickstart range contains added caffeine and vitamins. It’s meant to provide a ‘boost’ similar to other energy drinks, though the addition of real fruit juices makes it somewhat unique.

Mountain Dew Kickstart was first introduced in 2013, and contains a wide variety of flavors including the following:

  • Orange Citrus
  • Fruit Punch
  • Black Cherry
  • Pineapple Orange Mango
  • Midnight Grape
  • Strawberry Start-Up

Game Fuel

Game Fuel

This is a now retired range of Mountain Dew drinks, which were formerly known as Amp Game Fuel. It was designed to help you play games, including an extra boost of caffeine and theanine to help make you more alert and improve accuracy. All of the range ceased production in 2023.

Mountain Dew Energy

Mountain Dew Energy

Another since retired range of Mountain Dew is Mountain Dew Energy, which was initially marketed as Mountain Dew Rise.

These were specific energy drinks and included flavors such as Pomegranate Blue Burst, Strawberry Melon Spark, Berry Blitz, Baja Blast, and other appropriately named flavors.

Hard Mountain Dew

Hard Mountain Dew

These were created together with the Boston Beer Company, and they contain 5% alcohol by volume but no added sugar or caffeine.

There’s a regular Hard Mountain Dew, as well as other flavor varieties. These include Black Cherry, Watermelon, Baja Blast, and LiveWire.

Frozen Beverages

Frozen Beverages

Mountain Dew make a range of frozen beverages, which is exclusive to convenience stores in the US. Flavors include Blue Shock Freeze, Electric Charge, and Game Fuel Berry Lime.

International Varieties

International Varieties

There are plenty of international flavor varieties, which are somewhat similar to the ‘exclusive’ section above, but country-specific.

For example, there’s Mountain Dew Energy and Citrus Blast in the UK, Mountain Dew X-Treme in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Honduras, and Adrenaline Mountain Dew, which was aimed at the Polish and Norwegian markets.

There’s also Mountain DEw Electric Citrus in Spain, Mountain Dew Passionfruit Frenzy in New Zealand, and Mountain Dew Energised in Australia.

Tasty Alternatives to Mountain Dew

Tasty Alternatives to Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew has a fairly unique flavor profile which, let’s face it, not everybody loves. If you do like energy-type drinks with caffeine and sugar, there are plenty of other options available.

If you like Mountain Dew specifically, you’ll enjoy the many ‘copycat’ varieties out there, too.

Red Bull

Red Bull

Red Bull is comparable as it also contains lots of caffeine and added sweetness.

By comparison, Red Bull does have a lot more caffeine, particularly when the smaller volume of standard cans is taken into account.

With that said, it’s a similar-ish drink that also features a hard to describe flavor (fruity?) and a loyal fanbase.

Gatorade

Gatorade

Gatorade was invented specifically to aid with water loss during sports play. Some diehard fans of Mountain Dew seem to argue it works for exercise, too.

Gatorade is definitely better for you, though it still contains a lot of sugar.

However, if you’re looking for alternatives to just try, Gatorade may definitely be a good option. j

Hillbilly Holler, Citrus Drop, Mountain Lion, and more

Hillbilly Holler, Citrus Drop, Mountain Lion, Kountry Mist, Moon Mist, Fountain Mist, and more

There are a lot of copycat Mountain Dew varieties out there.

These include generic Mountain Dew sold at Kroger stores under the name Citrus Drop, a now retired Sodastream syrup variety called Fountain Mist, and various other options.

Fareway stores make a generic Mountain Dew variant known as Hillbilly Holler, which just sounds like a fun name, to be honest.

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