Kiwis and I had a pretty good relationship.
I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, kiwi birds are my favorite animals, and during elementary school lunchtime I would’ve happily traded a Ziploc full of half-crushed Oreo cookies (worth more in those days than gold dust) for a Strawberry Kiwi Capri-Sun.
But that relationship was tested when I was forced to watch a peer eat an entire kiwi fruit like an apple—a grueling sight that would make the Ludovico Technique feel like Sesame Street. I understand that many of you will probably defend this practice, but let me tell you, when I cracked open my can of green apple kiwi-flavored Mtn Dew Green Label, all I could hear was the haunting crunch of canine teeth piercing hairy kiwi skin.
I think I want my baggy of sandwich cookie smithereens back.
Despite these preexisting prejudices, I will give Green Label some credit: its premise is more interesting than Mtn Dew White Label, which was essentially a white grape sequel to Black Label that tasted more like a Phantom Menace-esque prequel. I had hopes that Green Label would close Dew’s first Label trilogy off right, mostly because the stuff is the same color as Luke’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi.
Seriously, this stuff is green: greener than Kermit the Frog after too many Midori and Ecto-Cooler mixers. But even though it’s about 50 shades of Oz darker than original Mountain Dew, my first sip of Green Label just tasted like watered down Dew. It took a few swirls, swishes, and elevated pinky fingers before Green Label’s tarter green apple notes began to develop behind its syrupy lemon-lime base.
Despite its largely natural ingredients, this soda doesn’t taste much like a real green apple. I know: big surprise coming from a fine beverage brand that pairs with authentically cheese flavored hors d’oeuvres like Doritos. Green Label’s mild carbonation sort of mimics the refreshing crispness of a Granny Smith, but the drink’s leading fruit flavor is closer to an artificial green apple candy.
On a scale of “Green Apple Skittle” (that filthy, lime-killing Brutus) to “Green Apple Jolly Rancher,” Mtn Dew Green Label’s tasty tanginess is about a “Green Laffy Taffy.” Not too sweet, not too biting, this green apple flavor is pleasantly juicy, but still tragically underpowered compared to the core Dew taste.
Speaking of oppressed flavors in a puppet Dew-mocracy, Green Label’s faint kiwi taste only emerges near the tail end of every gulp. Its lightly floral, tropical melon twist reminds me of a Strawberry Kiwi Propel, and my secret conspiracy theory is that PepsiCo diluted Green Label with that very same electrolyte drink —- hence why it’s kind of watery.
But even if this Dew is nefariously spiked with the kiwi-flavored stuff plants crave, it’s still worth trying for the aftertaste alone. For a brief, magical moment at each sip’s end, Green Label’s apple and kiwi flavors merge to produce a delightfully sweet, trachea-crackling fruit cocktail that tastes like green Wonka Fun Dip.
Seriously, if I could bottle just that fleeting flavor, I’d have something more addictive than Soylent Green with a side of Green Eggs & Ham.
Overall, Mtn Dew Green Label’s advertised flavors may be too mild and washed out, but in those rare instances when both green apple and kiwi work, they work memorably enough that your taste buds will want to frame them right next to your uvula.
To use another Force-sensitive analogy: if White Label is the Jar Jar Binks to Black Label’s Qui Gon Jinn, then I think we found his soda Obi-Wan.
(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 80 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 16 fl oz. can
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Straight-off-the-Lik-a-Stix aftertastes. The surprisingly palatable union of Laffy Taffy and power sports beverages. Enjoying the taste of plain Dew enough to like this stuff regardless. Having cheese platters on hand for emergencies. Using “trachea-crackling” as a compliment.
Cons: Authoritarian lemon-lime Dew-tatorships. Watered-down sugar water. Meek apple-kiwi wallflowers. The non-existence of fancy Limburger Doritos to pair this with. Et tu, Skittles?