REVIEW: Mtn Dew DEW.S.A

Mtn Dew DEW S A

Nothing makes me feel prouder to be an American than thinking about the colors that decorate our stars and stripes: purple, violet, and Crayola Purple Mountains’ Majesty.

The purple, of course, represents Grimace, an American hero who symbolizes our freedom to eat milkshakes with our 8 a.m. McMuffins if we darn well please. The violet honors Donatello, whose wise reptilian martial arts helped end the Civil War. And Purple Mountains’ Majesty commemorates the brave crayons who entertain our nation’s children while they doodle Donatello suplexing Grimace (or was that just me?).

This explains the color of Mountain Dew’s new patriotic Mtn Dew DEW.S.A too, becau—wait, what? You’re saying they just combined red, white, and blue Dew flavors to make this lilac-hued liquid? I guess that’s what I get for playing Pokémon instead of paying attention in U.S. History class:

I get stuck in Lavender Town.

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Speaking of lavender, Mountain Dew certainly didn’t skip art class, because this aesthetically pleasing beverage evenly blends the colors of Code Red, White Out, and Voltage: the three respective flavors that form DEW.S.A.’s chromatic trilogy.

Since the colors are evenly represented, you’d expect all three Dew flavors to get equal treatment too, right? Left. Whoops, I meant wrong. Like a washed-out photo or my pasty face after a long winter, DEW.S.A. has poor white balance. Or at least poor orange balance. None of the citrusy bite of White Out or zesty zap of Voltage comes through, aside from a faintly tangy fruitiness in the end notes, which remind me of original, Cherry Citrus Game Fuel, which we first tasted when Halo 3 hit stores in 2007.

Makes sense: this stuff does look like an Energy Sword.

Cherry is a much fairer description for DEW.S.A.’s “body,” because the drink quite potently tastes of Swedish Fish. Or more specifically, Swedish Berries. Or even more specifically, the discount store-brand gummy raspberries my grandma would buy by the grocery bag-full and watch shamefully as I mushed a handful of them together into a single “mega berry.”

Okay, that may be too specific, but it’s accurate. Mtn DEW.S.A. blends Code Red’s candied cherry, Voltage’s tart raspberry, and a jelly-like pectin sweetness to craft a pleasant flavor that tragically ends too soon. Instead of bursting through the night like those anthemic bombs, the flavor of DEW.S.A. fades like a lone firework, cascading over your taste buds and disappearing as soon as the last drop high-fives your uvula.

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This is probably due to the soda’s sucralose content, which is always such a hot topic that I feel the need to mention it. I’m not opposed to artificial sweeteners —- I’ve been eating junk food for ages, so the Grim Reaper’s already been watching me like an eBay auction since I first learned to hold an Oatmeal Cream Pie -— as long as they don’t disrupt the flavor. The sucralose in DEW.S.A. tastes neither fake nor chemically, so I give it a pass.

It just makes the whole drink feel lighter (think Raspberry Crystal Light), which I find preferable to original Dew’s custardy thickness during hot summer months, especially as the latter leaves my throat feeling like a syrupy slime slalom.

And that’s just what DEW.S.A. is to me: a nicely crisp Dew with a nice, two-berried taste gimmick that’ll be simple (despite containing 200 percent more flavors than the average Dew) and refreshing during nice, poolside picnics. Nice.

I do wish the flavor was a little more recognizably American, but until they release apple pie HoneyDEW or charbroiled BarbeDEW, DEW.S.A. will Dew just fine.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 oz. bottle – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 45 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 20 fl oz. bottle
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: An American drink that ironically tastes of Scandinavian cherry-raspberry candy. The crispest summer dew this side of a morning lawn. Beverage colors that won’t leave you Grimacing. Fatalistic Oatmeal Cream Pies.
Cons: Orange you upset there’s no citrus? Raspberries that didn’t choose the blue pill. Transient flavors with a wanderlust. Not calling it “The DEWcleration of InDEWpendence.” My White Out skin becoming Code Red an hour into tanning.

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: 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.

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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: Mountain Dew Midnight Grape Kickstart

Mountain Dew Midnight Grape Kickstart

I’d like to apologize to Mountain Dew Midnight Grape Kickstart.

On several occasions, on this blog, out in public, and in a mirror, I’ve said the grape-flavored Mountain Dew Pitch Black is the best Mountain Dew flavor. So when I learned the brand was coming out with Midnight Grape Kickstart, I said to myself in the mirror, “YASSSSS!!! A grape-flavored Dew!!!” because I thought it would taste like my beloved Pitch Black.

But after drinking it and comparing it with Pitch Black (which I received from Mountain Dew a few weeks ago), I realized I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up because my logic was flawed.

I thought Grape + Mountain Dew = Pitch Black, but that’s not the case and I should’ve known that. Does the Black Cherry Kickstart taste like Mountain Dew Code Red? No. Does Orange Citrus Kickstart taste like Mountain Dew Livewire? No. So I’m sorry to Midnight Grape Kickstart for thinking it would taste like something that it doesn’t.

How can I make it up to you, Midnight Grape Kickstart?

A glowing review? Nope, you’re not going to get that.

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Much like all the Kickstart varieties that come in 16-ounce cans, this grape one has 5 percent juice, which comes from white grape juice concentrate. The addition of juice gives the beverage a natural grape flavor and not the candy-like grape Pitch Black has. Although it’s white grape juice, the color and flavor are more like a purple concord grape.

It’s not syrupy sweet like regular Mountain Dew sodas, thanks to artificial sweeteners ace K and Sucralose backing up the high fructose corn syrup. The use of those sweeteners cut the sugar content to 20 grams per can, which is a third of what’s in a 16-ounce serving of regular Dew. However, the lower sugar content makes it taste like a lightly carbonated diet grape juice or lightly carbonated grape juice that’s been watered down.

To be honest, I didn’t really care for it the first time. But after having a second can, it’s grown on me. However, that could be the 90 milligrams of caffeine per can talking.

I’m a fan of Mountain Dew Kickstart. I regularly purchase the Black Cherry and Fruit Punch flavors. But, even though Midnight Grape has grown on me, I can’t say the new flavor is good enough to join the other two flavors as a regular purchase.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 105 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Decent grape flavor that may take some getting used to. Fewer calories and sugar than regular Mountain Dew. Contains fruit juice. Natural grape flavor. 90 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: If you’re expected Mtn Dew Pitch Black, stop expecting. Tastes like diet grape juice or watered down grape juice. Apologizing to a Mountain Dew flavor.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime

I’m a bit past my gaming “wonder years” when I would spend hours on end using one hand to make Kirby eat his enemies whilst blindly stuffing corn chips into my own gaping maw with the other.

Growing up means learning to manage my time more wisely. Gobbling down Doritos with two hands is way more efficient!

Despite this, I’ve vowed to never become that uncool adult who calls every Xbox “a Nintendo” and insists Pokémon is pronounced “Pokee-mans.” So to stay hip, I’ve decided I need to start drinking Mtn Dew Game Fuel again.

Wait, kids don’t say “hip” anymore? My apologies. I believe the correct term is “#$wag.”

I haven’t had a sip of Game Fuel since it was first released in Citrus Cherry flavor to promote Halo 3 in 2007. I’ve mentioned before how I still have 3 cans of sealed Halo 3 Dew in my basement, and while they probably have the corrosiveness and flavor of Xenomorph blood now, they remind me of a simpler time when Mtn Dew actually spelled out the word “Mountain.” Back in my day, vowels were cool! Whippersnappers!

But now in its 6th iteration, Game Fuel is back to promote Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Citrus Cherry has returned, as usual, but 2015’s flavor n00b is Berry Lime.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime 2

With the color of a melted Gumby, the tempting turquoise liquid hissed at me as I cracked it open. And as I took a sip, that hiss became a bite. The fizzy carbonation here is strong enough to lift you into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized! So you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!

But the burn of the bubbles is paired pleasantly with the initial hit of berry flavor. The berries form a potent good cop/bad cop duo: first, a wave of bright, friendly blueberry sweet-talks your taste buds, but then a puckering tang of blue raspberry lays the smack down on ‘em with a surprise suplex from behind.

It’s a charming one-two punch that segues smoothly into the palpable lime aftertaste. More light and tropical than it is sour, this lime is what really appeals to me, because it tastes almost exactly like a liquefied Lime Skittle. And everyone knows Lime was the best Skittle before it was unceremoniously killed off and replaced with that bastard Green Apple Skittle.

R.I.P., Lime Skittle: I’ll pour a little bit of Dew out for you, my homie.

As the candied lime flavor peters out, I’m left again with the unfortunate back-of-mouth-funk and throat-stickiness that all new Dews seem to give. But unlike the grittiness of the recent Mtn Dew Black Label’s real sugar, the corn syrup here leaves my throat feeling slimier than a ’90s Nickelodeon game show.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime 3

The whole experience really is a bit like a more carbonated (thumbs up) and more artificial (thumbs down) version of Black Label. But it’s still as addictive as Minesweeper, and it’s hard to stay mad at a drink that simultaneously reunites me with my dearly departed Lime Skittle while also making me feel like I’m a vampire suckling on the life essence of a Blue Raspberry Jolly Rancher.

So while it probably won’t make me a Major League Gamer, this nostalgic and tasty Dew will at least make sure I don’t confuse Mario with Chef Boyardee.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 280 calories, 0 grams of fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 74 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 113 milligrams of caffeine.)

Item: Mtn Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 20 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Campus convenience store
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Two berries of blue in my Dew = woo-hoo! Lime Skittle memories. Willy Wonka levels of carbonation. Flavor suplexes. Repeatedly whispering the phrase “tempting turquoise” to myself in an empty room.
Cons: Nickelodeon levels of throat sliminess. Probably too sweet to drink with Doritos. Whpprsnpprs. “Thank you Chef Boyardee, but our princess is in another pasta can.”