Mountain Dew’s latest limited edition flavor does not contain alcohol, but it really, really wants to.
There’s been some understandable confusion over Dewshine, the crystal clear beverage from PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew brand that’s been sporadically popping up across the country over the past month or so. It comes in four-pack bottles emblazoned with Mountain Dew’s original drunk hillbilly mascot. It’s name is a play on a term for illicitly produced alcoholic beverages. It looks like the sort of beverage we’d give adults we’d met outside the grocery store $5 to buy for us back in the late-’80s.
But if my lack of flowing, feathered locks is any indication, it’s not the late-‘80s anymore. Kids these days have no idea who Bartle & Jaymes are (technically they never existed), and there’s no way in hell PepsiCo would release a version of Mountain Dew that couldn’t be purchased without adult supervision.
So even though Amazon is selling it in a 24 ounce glass jug for $17.00 with free Prime shipping, there’s no way Dewshine will get you drunk, though if you’d spent the past several days detoxing from a mostly caffeine diet, it will make you act like an idiot on camera.
There’s an entire fake history website dedicated to the new clear Mountain Dew, and while it’s mostly marketing theatrics, there is some basis in fact to the backwoods legend.
Mountain Dew was created in Tennessee in 1940 by beverage bottlers Barney and Ally Hartman, and while the original formula was non-alcoholic, it was created as a mixer. With the soft drink business still pretty regional back then, the Hartman’s created Mountain Dew as an alternative to having to drive all over hell and creation to buy someone else’s product. The term “Mountain Dew” was popular slang for moonshine in Scotland, Ireland and the Southern U.S. (all the same place).
PepsiCo got its hands on the brand back in 1964, and by 1970 transformed its identity from the drink for drunk hillbillies to the drink for drunk teenagers doing stupid things, and it’s not changed since.
Dewshine celebrates Mountain Dew’s drunk hillbilly roots. I imagine if I’d sprung for the jug I’d be running about barefoot in a plaid shirt and ragged hat about now. Instead, I opted for the four bottle pack I found at Target, maintaining my status as a man a little better than Walmart and much better than Kmart.
A clear citrus drink, Dewshine takes a cue from the world’s most popular clear citrus drink, which is to say it immediately tastes of Sprite. Considering most of Mountain Dew’s special flavors—Pound Of Sugar Dew, Cherry Pie Filling Dew, Just Syrup Dew—lean heavily towards cloyingly sweet, it’s rather refreshing to have a member of the family that’s relatively crisp and clean.
I say relatively crisp and clean because there is a dark afterward for Dewshine. There’s a lingering burn to each swallow that begins in the mouth and travels down to what scientists refer to as the guts. It’s the same sort of burn one gets with a strong ginger beer, through without any of the ginger flavor. I’m guessing it’s a clever drink science way to simulate the burn of the alcohol the packaging is trying to emulate. It’s quite tricksy.
Dewshine looks like an alcoholic beverage. It burns like an alcoholic beverage. If it tasted like an alcoholic beverage as well I might have been put off, but instead its distinct Sprite overtones bring me back to the days of my youth, when the youngsters at the kiddie table would pretend they were drinking wine and getting buzzed like the adults. We’d stumble about, get into fights, wake up in strange beds—good, clean childhood fun.
Thanks for the stirred memories, Dewshine. And the caffeine buzz.
Snacktaku is Kotaku’s take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands.