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.
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.
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.
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).