REVIEW: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Limeade and Black Cherry)

Mountain Dew Kickstart (Black Cherry and Limeade)

In an increasingly health conscious market full of zero-calorie sweeteners and unpalatably low-fat Chobani yogurt, PepsiCo decided to throw a proverbial middle finger in the face of personal trainers and inclined-treadmill-users everywhere when they released the first two flavors of Mountain Dew Kickstart back in 2013.

For those of you who don’t know, Mountain Dew Kickstart’s first flavors, Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch, are literally soda for breakfast. Like something out of a cartoon-binge induced dream of a seven-year-old, these two caffeinated flavors promised to give your humdrum morning that “kick” it so desperately needs.

Yet, amid skeptics (myself included), this year Mountain Dew Kickstart was ready to expand its caffeinated scissor-kick not just to our boring and mundane mornings, but to our boring and mundane evenings as well. Now available in (the rather unimaginatively named) Limeade and Black Cherry, the energy that these nighttime themed Mountain Dew Kickstarts provide can help you complete the important junk in your life, like applying for a job or finally getting around to completing that custody paperwork for your daughter. I was intrigued.

Because seeing a Mountain Dew product marketed as a breakfast beverage is not something one easily forgets, I knew exactly the retailer that would be carrying its nighttime themed companions. Looks like I was taking a little field trip to my local Walmart.

Amid familiar blue aisles of ridiculously low-priced goods and boxes of $5 movies containing twelve copies of Shrek the Third and an 80s Val Kilmer action flick, I found both new flavors of Mountain Dew Kickstart displayed humbly, at room temperature, on a rack near the checkout. Much like the Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch varieties, the first thing I noticed is that both the Limeade and Black Cherry flavors look suspiciously similar to their energy drink competition. I could not help but think that the familiarly shaped tall 16-ounce cans, colored pull-tabs, and generic labeling were channeling the style of both Monster and Rockstar.

Yet, what these Mountain Dew Kickstarts lack in originality, they certainly make up for in taste, which is surprising considering the executives over at Mountain Dew HQ decided to go with the uninspiring ubiquitous choice of Limeade and Black Cherry. However, I have nothing against these two flavors and I was excited to see how Mountain Dew (now famous for making a variety of beverages that actually have nothing to do with the original Mountain Dew itself) handled each one.

Mountain Dew Kickstart (Black Cherry and Limeade) Closeup

I have always been skeptical of flavors labeled “limeade”. Deep down I really want to believe, really, it’s just that anything labeled “limeade” usually just tastes suspiciously similar to lemon-lime, or just plain lemon for that matter.  Yet, despite my general feelings towards the marketing maneuver of all things “limeade”, this Mountain Dew Kickstart incarnation is fantastic. If Mountain Dew can do nothing else, it’s create an exemplary citrus drink. The flavor itself tastes (unsurprisingly) similar to the original Mountain Dew, but totally in a good way. Compared to other energy drinks, Mountain Dew Kickstart Limeade is a refreshing deviation from the guarana fueled, syrupy norm. In fact, if you didn’t tell me this was an energy drink, I would be hard pressed to tell it was anything other than just a new flavor of Mountain Dew.

However, as surprisingly good the Limeade flavor was, I enjoyed the Black Cherry variety even more. I have to admit that yes, I am a bit biased. Of my specifically colored fruits, I’d have to say black cherry trumps blue raspberry any day (get at me Jolly Ranchers!). With this in mind, I was happy to find this Mountain Dew Kickstart version did my beloved black cherry justice. But seriously, this was one of the best black cherry flavors I have ever had. It’s sweet and pleasant, but, like its Limeade companion, not overwhelmingly sugary or “chemical”.

Even though both Limeade and Black Cherry Kickstart may not offer the most original first impression, their fantastic flavors are proof that Mountain Dew absolutely knows what it’s doing in the beverage game. Although, I wouldn’t mind if Mountain Dew tried to pave some completely new path in the world of carbonated beverages.

I kinda want Mountain Dew to get freaky.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – Limeade – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein. Black Cherry – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Limeade and Black Cherry)
Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 16 fl oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Limeade)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Black Cherry)
Pros: Exemplary flavor. Barely tastes like an energy drink. Great flavor execution.
Cons: Lackluster packaging. Kinda boring flavor names. The fact that Walmart employees are incredibly underpaid.

QUICK REVIEW: Mountain Dew Game Fuel Electrifying Berry

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Electrifying Berry

Purchased Price: $1.59
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant berry flavor and aroma, but it tastes and smells like a previous Mountain Dew Dewmocracy flavor. If you’re looking to electrify yourself, it has 124 milligrams of caffeine per bottle.
Cons: Tastes like another Mountain Dew flavor. Might be too cloying for some. Purple color makes me miss Mountain Dew Pitch Black even more. Wow…I just consumed a lot of sugar. Still waiting for a pee-colored, banana-flavored Mountain Dew.

Nutrition Facts: 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of carbohydrates, 77 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Fruit Punch and Orange Citrus)

Mountain Dew Kickstart

Wise men once said in the late-1980s, and more recently in a Kia commercial, “Ooh, are you ready girls? Ooh, are you ready now? Ooh, yeah! Kickstart my heart, give it a start! Ooh, yeah, baby! Ooh, yeah! Kickstart my heart, hope it never stops! Ooh, yeah, baby!”

During my teen years, those motivational words from Mötley Crüe made me run faster, drive faster, eat faster, build Lego kits faster, and feather my hair.

But today, because I’m old, decrepit, and my iPod’s alarm allows me to snooze it, I need more than Tommy Lee’s drumming, Mick Mars’ guitar licks, Nikki Sixx’s bassing, and Vince Neil’s screaming to kickstart my heart and morning. Well, Mountain Dew might have what I’m looking for with their new Kickstart beverages.

Sure, if you wanted to Dew the Dew while there’s morning dew, you could drink a regular can or bottle of Mountain Dew, but Mountain Dew Kickstart is made for the morning. It’s a sparkling juice beverage that combines the flavor of fruit juice with the caffeine of coffee. Yes, it’s basically a morning soda that can be part of your complete breakfast. But, just like breakfast cereals, consuming them at two o’clock in the afternoon would not be a faux pas.

Mountain Dew Kickstart comes in 16-ounces cans and two flavors — Orange Citrus (makes sense) and Fruit Punch (not so much). If you were to drink a can to start your morning, you’d have downed 80 calories, 20 grams of sugar, 100 percent of your daily vitamin C, 80 percent of your daily niacin, 80 percent of your daily vitamin B6, and 92 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine, all of which is much better than regular Mountain Dew. A 16-ounce serving of Mountain Dew has 230 calories, 62 grams of sugar, 72 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine, and isn’t a significant source of any vitamins and minerals.

Mountain Dew Energizing Fruit Punch Kickstart

We love our fruit punch here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so a part of me was excited to see it as a Mountain Dew Kickstart flavor. However, at the same time I was a bit confused about the choice. Fruit punch isn’t a breakfast drink and is stereotypically (according to television) something that’s spiked at school dances with alcohol or Spanish Fly. Perhaps a more breakfast-friendly flavor, like apple, would’ve been better.

The aroma from the can was mildly fruity and somewhat reminded me of Hawaiian Punch. The sparkling juice beverage sparkled moderately, making it easier to drink than any other Mountain Dew soda. It started off with nice sweet fruity flavor similar to other fruit punches I’ve had (which is mostly McDonald’s fruit punch) and ended with an aftertaste that’s similar to Diet Mountain Dew. If you decided to test my taste buds for which fruits make up the punch, I would fail. Overall, it’s not a bad beverage, but I feel weird drinking it with breakfast.

However, Mountain Dew Orange Citrus Kickstart tastes more like something appropriate for breakfast.

Mountain Dew Energizing Orange Citrus Kickstart

The orange-flavored sparkling juice beverage doesn’t have an aroma as strong as its red sibling, and whatever smell there is its a generic citrus. Just like Mountain Dew Fruit Punch Kickstart, it had a mild amount of carbonation, so look elsewhere if you want to wake up with fizz tickling your nose.

The orange citrus flavor tasted more like tangerines, which was fine, but what wasn’t fine was how the initial taste, which, like its aroma, wasn’t very strong, quickly went from mild to extremely watered down to an artificial sweetener aftertaste. Its flavor wasn’t a kickstart; instead it was more of a downshift.

To be honest, I’m not sure who’s going to regularly buy Mountain Dew Kickstart. Xtreme Dew fans will probably sneer at the fact that it’s a “sparkling juice beverage”; hardcore energy drink drinkers will scoff at the 92 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce serving; nutritionists will ridicule the 5 percent juice both flavors contain; and 12-year-olds will laugh at the acetate isobutyrate they contain because they’ll probably pronounce it as, “ass taint I saw booty rate.”

But what do I know. I feathered my hair in the late 80s.

(Disclosure: I received free samples of Mountain Dew Kickstart from Mountain Dew. I should also disclose, along with the samples, I also got sunglasses, an iPod shuffle, and Beats Audio headphones in a fancy Plexiglass box. Two of the items will be given away in the near future.)

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – Fruit Punch – 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% vitamin C, 80% niacin, 80% vitamin B6, 60% pantothenic acid, and 10% phosphorus. Orange Citrus – 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% vitamin C, 80% niacin, 80% vitamin B6, 60% pantothenic acid, and 10% phosphorus.)

Other Mountain Dew Fruit Punch Kickstart reviews:
Thirsty Dudes
The Soda Jerks

Other Mountain Dew Orange Citrus Kickstart reviews:
BevReview
Serious Eats
The Soda Jerks

Items: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Fruit Punch and Orange Citrus)
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 16 fl. oz. cans
Purchased at: Received from Mountain Dew
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Fruit Punch)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Orange Citrus)
Pros: 92 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Good fruit punch flavor. Nice energy boost. Significantly less calories and sugar than regular Mountain Dew. Mild carbonation makes it easy to drink. Awesome source of vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin B6. Mötley Crüe.
Cons: Only 5 percent juice. Weird drinking fruit punch in the morning. Both have an artificial sweetener aftertaste. Orange Citrus’ flavor goes from mild to light. Not sure who will buy this regularly.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold

Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold

Are you an extreme designated driver?

If you are, Mountain Dew has a soda that will satisfy your malt-craving taste buds, but do so without any alcohol to impair your judgement. And, as with all Mountain Dew varieties, it has the extreme caffeine (73 milligrams per 16-ounce serving to be exact) to keep you alert during your late night of barhopping with friends so that you can make sure none of them go home with someone they’ll regret in the morning and you’ll be quick enough to pull back the hair of your female friends in time as they throw up on the way home.

That soda, my sober comrade, is Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold. So you can Dew this Dew and still Dew your Dewty to Dewrive your Dewdes and Dewdetts to their Dewplexes after a night of Dewunken Dewbauchery.

Johnson City Gold is named after the birthplace of original Mountain Dew — Johnson City, Tennessee. And, while we’re on the subject of Mountain Dew’s history, did you know Mountain Dew was originally slang for moonshine? And, while we’re on the subject of slang, according to Urban Dictionary, Mountain Dew, today, is slang for the sweat stains under one’s breasts. Although, now that I know Mountain Dew was slang for moonshine and is slang for breast sweat stains, perhaps a more appropriate name for sweaty breasts is boobshine. Just throwing that out there.

Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold tastes like someone mixed Heineken beer and lemon-lime soda. The malty flavor stands out, and might be mistaken for beer, but it’s significantly less bitter than beer. The citrus flavor is noticeable throughout each swig, but more so towards the end. The combination of malt and citrus in a soda sounds like it should be horrible, and I thought Johnson City Gold was going to be revolting, but, after tasting it, I have to say it’s surprisingly tasty. It’s more malty than Mountain Dewy, so if you’re expecting the usual Mountain Dew derivative, your taste buds will be surprised.

Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold Closeup

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Johnson City Gold may taste and smell like beer, but it’s void of any alcohol. Think of it as a non-alcoholic Four Loko. So anyone with enough money and a mouth can buy and drink it. According to news posts I’ve read, PepsiCo executives said malt-flavored beverages are popular in Latin America and the Middle East, and they’re hoping it catches on here in the U.S. But I don’t know if Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold is good enough to make that happen. I like it, but it’s such a unique soda flavor that I don’t think it’ll be a runaway success.

While its flavor impressed me, the fact that a major soda company released a malt-flavored soda has got me really, really excited. I’ve complained a couple of times about the fact that Pepsi in Japan has come out annually with unique limited edition flavors, but here in the United States the flavor choices are less daring. Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold gives me hope that we’ll see more creative soda flavors on U.S. store shelves in the near future.

(Note: Johnson City Gold is now available in select Kroger stores across the Midwest. It will be available in Denver, Colo. and Charlotte, N.C. 7-Eleven stores starting September 1. A nationwide rollout isn’t happening until 2013 and the product will have different names, depending on the region. If you’re wondering where to find Johnson City Gold, here’s a list of stores carrying it. Thanks Mike N.)

(Disclosure: We received free Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold samples from PepsiCo. As you can see, we didn’t get the final production cans with artwork. Instead we received sample cans.)

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 230 calories, 80 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, and 61 grams of sugar.)

Other Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold reviews:
BevReview
Food Junk

Item: Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Received from PepsiCo
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly good. 73 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Perfect malt-flavored beverage for designated drivers. People who live in cities that will be selling Johnson City Gold. Gives me hope there will be more unusual flavors from PepsiCo. Non-alcoholic. The third paragraph of this review.
Cons: Won’t be available nationwide until 2013. If you dislike beer, you will not like this. Awesome source of sugar. Non-alcoholic. Citrus flavor could’ve been a little more pronounced.

NEWS: Mountain Dew Dewing a Malt-Flavored Soda Called Johnson City Gold

Day 110 - Mountain Dew

Update: Click here to read our Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold review

Johnson City Gold is the latest beverage from Mountain Dew, but it’s not like the Mountain Dew flavors we’re all used to. It’s malt-flavored. But before you alcoholics get excited, it’s also non-alcoholic.

So what’s up with Johnson City in its name? Mountain Dew got its start Johnson City, Tennessee. So sorry, Johnson City, Kansas; Johnson City, New York; Johnson City, Oregon; and Johnson City, Texas, it’s not named after any of you.

The “first batch” of Johnson City Gold will be available later this month for a limited time in select Kroger stores across the Midwest, and in 7-Eleven stores in the test markets of Denver, Colorado and Charlotte, North Carolina starting September 1, 2012. The “second batch” will be available everyone in the U.S., but not until 2013. Although, before the second batch is shipped, you’ll probably find entrepreneurial souls on eBay who would be willing to ship a can to anywhere else in the U.S. for an inflated price.

Before the second batch is released, you can re-name the product and re-design its packaging to best represent one of six regions in the U.S. – South, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Great Plains and Great Lakes. Yup, just those regions, so Dew fans in Hawaii and Alaska can suck it!

Oh wait, I’m a Dew fan in Hawaii.

From August 9-16, fans are encouraged to suggest a name that would best represent a malt-flavored DEW tailor-made for their region of the country. One product name, per region, per day, can be submitted, names will be voted on by fans, and finalists will win custom-made gear featuring their suggested product name. From September 19 – October 10, artists can upload label designs that represent the fan favorite product names. Winners will each be awarded a digital camera, with a chance to see their design commercialized in 2013. Go to the Your Malt Dew website to enter your suggestions.

If you’re one of the lucky folks to get your hands on Johnson City Gold, let us know what you think of it in the comments below.