REVIEW: Mtn Dew White Label

Mtn Dew White Label

Gather ‘round, kids: it’s time for a Choose Your Own Adventure story!

You are Mountain Dew Pitch Black, a heroic soda knight whose early 2000s Halloween conquests — and recent 2016 revival — made him the sugary stuff of legends and memories alike.

But although you’re a more mythic Mountain than Olympus, people aren’t as charmed by radioactively purple syrup as they used to be. So if you don’t want to join Heinz EZ Squeeze in Violet Valhalla, you’ll have to grow up.

Which path will you take at this pivotal crossroad?

If you choose the dark path, turn to a different review.

If you choose the light path, turn to the next page and prepare to see a threatening, all-caps THE END that’ll make you glad you kept your thumb on the previous page.

Why? Because while Mountain Dew’s recent Black Label was a deliciously classy Pitch Black who grew up to host dinner parties and own an art house theater, this new White Label tastes like an adult Pitch Black who bitterly yells at the local news with his mouthful of lukewarm Hungry Man dinners.

Mtn Dew White Label 2

Enough doom, gloom, and microwaved rib eye for now: let’s start with the positives. Mountain Dew White Label does preserve much of the grape flavor that makes Pitch Black great, without the syrupy discomfort that Pitch Black’s many grams of sugary slugs slime onto the back of your throat. At only 35 grams of sugar and 140 calories per can, this comparatively light Dew won’t leave you shamefully feeling like you drank a Nickelodeon prop.

I say “much of the grape flavor,” because the fruitiness is lighter, too. The white grape juice concentrate lacks the sour, tangy punch of its red sibling, but it replaces it with an unparalleled crispness that’s nearly floral. It’s no chardonnay, but I can see this flavor appealing to a niche audience of Dew snobs.

Unfortunately, that’s the nicest thing I can say about Mtn Dew White Label. Because once the white grape flavor fades, an unwelcome orange backend takes its place. The can claims that White Label is “Dew with Crafted Tropical Citrus,” but the bitter, acrid tang of this orange finish just tastes like the juice of a wrinkly tangerine that was infused with expired SunnyD and the pity tears of a passing pineapple.

In short: this tropical shipwreck’s more LOST than Gilligan’s Island.

Mtn Dew White Label 3

Mtn Dew White Label isn’t undrinkable, and it might work for those seeking a super smooth soda that won’t pummel their trachea with the aggressive jabs of a million bubbles, but Black Label just tastes superior in every way. White Label is pretty much Diet Black Label (it contains Sucralose, and you can tell), and since Black Label was already a less carbonated Pitch Black, this new Dew’s one degree of separation too far away to be worth it.

So please, young Pitch Black, if you’re reading this, disregard Master Kenobi and embrace the power of the Dark Side.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: White grape concentrate that’s crisper than Denny’s hash browns. Not feeling like my taste buds went on Double Dare. Liquid opacity that rivals Crystal Pepsi. Pairing this with Doritos for a low-budget wine & cheese night.
Cons: Diet Diet Pitch Black. Cantankerous citrus aftertastes. Pineapple pity parties. Suddenly: sucralose! Never getting to eat purple ketchup again. Throwing so much shade they could’ve called it “Grey Label.”

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

For most of my life I’ve thought of ginger as more of a medicine than an ingredient.

When I felt nauseous playing DOOM, I sucked on ginger candy. When I felt something funny in my tummy while watching someone play DOOM, I drank ginger ale. And when it felt like the room was spinning around every time I closed my eyes after playing DOOM, I hung out next to the toilet.

While ginger ale is quite possibly the most popular beverage with ginger, more drinks are being offered with it, like ginger beers, ginger kombucha, and, last year, Pepsi put some into their wonderful 1893 Ginger Cola.

Because of my love for Pepsi’s craft ginger cola, the first thing I sought out during my Japan trip was the new Coca-Cola Plus Ginger.

While Pepsi Japan comes out annually with limited edition soda flavors you’ve never seen in a PETE plastic soda bottle, Coca-Cola Japan keeps it simple by just adding a bit of flavor to the standard Coke and does it at an Olympics-like frequency. About three years ago, Coca-Cola Japan sold a delicious orange-flavored Coke.

It’s funny that the Pepsi Japan flavors are like ideas from a cocaine binge (cucumber, baobab, cherry blossom), while the cola that once had actual cocaine in it ends up being tame.

Much like the amount of orange flavoring in the last limited edition Japanese Coke I had, this soda had the right amount of ginger flavor. You can’t miss it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the cola. To be honest, it tastes right at home with the cola spices. Also, it didn’t burn, like it does with ginger beer. Coca-Cola Plus Ginger is such a great tasting soda that I bought two more bottles at the end of my trip.

If you enjoyed Pepsi’s ginger cola, you’ll like this, if you get your hands on it. It’s only available in Japan for a limited time (it was available in Australia in 2016) or from an online Japanese snack seller. If you think you’ll be able to replicate it by mixing Coca-Cola with Seagram’s Ginger Ale, you won’t because I tried using various ratios and none of them tasted anything close.

I really hope Coca-Cola Plus Ginger ends up in the United States, or at least be an option on a Coke Freestyle machine.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 44 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sodium, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 130 Japanese Yen
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: Lawson Station
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you’re a fan of Pepsi’s 1893 Ginger Cola, you’ll like this. Right amount of ginger flavor. Ginger complements the cola spices. Doesn’t have ginger burn.
Cons: Not available in the U.S., but might be available through online Japanese snack sellers. The nauseous feeling I got when playing DOOM.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Mango Heat Game Fuel

Mtn Dew Mango Heat

If you asked me to write down the flavors that remind me of October, I assure you that “mango” and “spicy heat” would both fall pretty low on that list, right there near the bottom with “overcooked pork chop,” “accidentally ingested Reese’s wrapper,” and “neighborhood bully knuckle sandwich.”

There’s really no logical reason for Mountain Dew’s new Mango Heat Game Fuel to debut after summer, unless the titular flavors are meant to symbolize global warming and all the unsold overstock from Trader Joe’s recent mango mania. I understand that Mango Heat doesn’t need to make sense, since it’s only meant to tie-in with the upcoming video game Titanfall 2, but as a meticulous Halloween fanatic, I want everything I consume this month to taste appropriately spooktacular.

It’s why every steak I eat in October oozes blood, every pizza is extra saucy, and every PB&J has enough J to create an impressive splash zone around me when I bite into it.

So Mountain Dew should’ve just tied this drink to the new Resident Evil zombie game and called it “Blood Orange Game Fuel.” Because as I quickly found out, that’s what it tastes like, too.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 2

Amidst the wails of my Spooky Sounds cassette tape and the annoyed groans of my upstairs neighbors, the fine carbonated hiss of my Dew became a welcome part of the spooky symphony. But nothing about my first sip screamed “mango!” to me. Instead, it tasted like a carbonated Hi-C Ecto-Cooler.

More specifically, it tasted like Mountain Dew took a carbonated Ecto Cooler, added a splash of Sunny D, tossed in a dash of black pepper, and mixed it all together—by using a Mango Dum-Dum sucker as the swizzle stick. In layman’s tastes, this means Mango Heat’s predominate flavor is “sugary artificial orange,” with a mildly biting tang and an even milder tropical fruitiness.

While its lack of mango is already lame enough to make an ordinary man go nuts, this Dew’s peppery heat is the disappointing icing on an already sad birthday cake—the kind of cake that misspells my name as “Don.” The promised heat isn’t spicy or burning: it’s just kind of annoying. After every sip, a tingling, unflavored aftertaste tickled the back of my throat like one of those sneezes that teases but never comes.

I tried swishing the Mango Heat around in my mouth to test for deeper flavor complexities, but this merely spread the Dew’s unpleasant slimy corn syrupiness around my mouth and made my dentist shudder in his sleep without knowing why.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 3

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this Dew’s angsty tangerine juice box flavor. Its “liquefied Velma Scooby-Doo fruit snacks” taste is perfectly pleasant when sipped in isolation. Yet I can’t but help compare Mango Heat to its similar-tasting Game Fuel brother: Citrus Cherry. Since Citrus Cherry is also back in stores, I wish Mountain Dew had been more experimental with this new Game Fuel flavor.

With a color as atomically orange as Mango Heat’s, Mountain Dew could’ve made a vanilla-tinged Orange Creamsicle Dew or a BuzzFeed-breaking Pumpkin Spice Dew. Heck, I would’ve even accepted a nationwide release of 2014’s legendary, nacho cheese-flavored “Dewritos” soda. It’s the most deviant time of year, yet Mountain Dew tried to play it a little too safe.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 4

If you really like Hi-C’s Ecto-Cooler or Orange Lavaburst, Mtn Dew Mango Heat might still tickle your fancy as much as it does your trachea. The rest of us are better off using it as a glowing Halloween mood talisman.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 100 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 46 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 20 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: A stinging high-five between an Orange Starburst and a pissed-off glass of Sunny D. A soda the color of melted jack-o-lanterns. Using carbonation for atmospheric effect. Ordering an “extra large, extra bloody” pizza from Papa John’s. Never having the chance to masochistically taste “Dewritos.”
Cons: Mango flavor that’s as faded as my summer memories. A heated aftertaste that’s as irritating as YouTube’s Annoying Orange. A palette-swapped Citrus Cherry doppelgänger. PB&J stains on my best white shirt. Unknowingly eating the brown wrapper on every Reese’s Cup until I was six (seriously).

REVIEW: Monster Energy Mutant Super Sodas

Monster Mutant Super Sodas

I wonder if internally at Monster Energy Headquarters, which I imagine is a radioactive green building with giant ramps on its sides that allow action sports stars to jump over the building, they called their new Super Sodas, Monster Dew.

In the world of radioactive colored sodas, Mountain Dew is far and away the most popular, and probably the most radioactive colored. So I understand why Monster decided to go after Mountain Dew’s marketshare. It could be successful or it could end up like Coca-Cola’s Surge, discontinued until a rabid following helps bring it back in limited markets

The new soda line is available in two varieties — Original and Red Dawn. If you Dew the Dew, you probably figured out Red Dawn is Monster’s version of Mountain Dew’s cherry-flavored Code Red.

The green one is good, but it’s slightly different than Mountain Dew. To be more exact it tastes like it’s missing something. And that something is orange juice concentrate. The lack of it leans the soda more into lime territory. You might think Monster decided not to use it in case Pepsi decided to Mountain Sue them, but that’s unlikely because Red Dawn has it.

While the Hulk green Monster Super Soda kind of tastes like original Dew, Red Dawn tastes exactly like Mountain Dew Code Red. If you secretly replaced my stash of it with Monster’s version, I don’t think I’d be able to tell. And if you did that, how dare you sneak into my home and you will be getting a bill for all the locks I have to change.

They have the same amount of calories and slightly less sugar than Mountain Dew. But the number many of you care about when it comes to radioactive colored sodas is the caffeine amount. While 20 ounces of Dew has 91 milligrams of caffeine, a 20-ounce bottle of Monster Super Soda has 115 milligrams. I think that’s a difference most drinkers won’t notice. And that’s a number without Monster’s proprietary energy blend, which if used would’ve upped the caffeine content significantly, but the bitterness from it might’ve made the beverage taste more like Mountain Ew than Mountain Dew.

Another significant number was the price. At my local 7-Eleven, the Monster Super Soda was $2.29, while a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew was $1.89. So they taste similar and have slightly more caffeine, but are more expensive.

The two are fine Mountain Dew alternatives, but, for me, price negates the fact they have slightly more caffeine. If they were the same price, I’d definitely pick them up more often.

(Nutrition Facts – Original – 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 74 grams of carbohydrates, 70 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, and 100% vitamin B6. Red Dawn – 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of sodium, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 72 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, and 100% vitamin B6..)

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 20 oz bottles
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Fine Mtn Dew alternatives. Red Dawn tastes like Code Red. Slightly more caffeine than Mtn Dew.
Cons: Pricer than Mtn Dew. Why does Red Dawn have orange juice concentrate, but the green one doesn’t? Using Mountain Sue and Mountain Ew in a review.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Cheerwine Kreme

Cheerwine Kreme

The Southern favorite, Cheerwine, used to be on my soda bucket list.

Yes, I have a soda bucket list.

Cheerwine. Chugged.

Moxie. Imbibed.

Big Red. Knocked back.

Coco Fizz. Consumed.

Faygo. Someday, yo.

Dublin Dr Pepper. Unfortunately, never, since it’s not being made anymore.

To be honest, for a while, I thought Cheerwine was an alcoholic beverage. But thanks to the internet and one really boring evening at home, I learned it was not. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to drink it, and, holy cheer, it’s one sweet cherry soda. Sweet because it made my sweet tooth dance like the inflatable tube guy you see at car dealerships and sweet because it’s one awesome soda. Think of it as Dr Pepper, but instead of having 23 flavors, it has one flavor — cherry.

Being both from the South, Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme decided to join forces to create a Cheerwine with a hint of Krispy Kreme icing. This would’ve been a nice flavor to introduce next year, since 2017 is Cheerwine’s 100th birthday, but maybe the company plans to introduce Cheerwine with a hint of birthday cake to celebrate.

This is not the first time the two brands have come together for a product. They also did a Cheerwine-flavored Krispy Kreme donut, I mean, doughnut.

Cheerwine Kreme 2

Cheerwine Kreme is noticeably lighter in color than original Cheerwine. While the original is Dr Pepper dark, the limited edition soda is like a slightly darker Big Red soda. It has an aroma that instantly makes me think of Vanilla Coke. It also has a vanilla flavor that instantly makes me think of a red creme soda.

I love red cream soda, so I enjoyed Cheerwine Kreme immensely. But it tastes exactly like a red creme soda. That’s an issue because Cheerwine has a unique flavor and the flavor of this isn’t.

A special thanks goes to Impulsive Buy reader Robert Harris who sent me the bottles of Cheerwine and Cheerwine Kreme. Cheers, Robert!

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 17 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: Received from reader
Size: 20 oz bottle
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like red cream soda. Smells like Vanilla Coke. Probably less Red 40 than original Cheerwine.
Cons: Tastes like a red cream soda. Was available in very few markets. Not being able to drink Dublin Dr Pepper.