REVIEW: Mtn Dew Cake-Smash

Mtn Dew Cake Smash Can

Mtn Dew Cake-Smash was supposed to come out last year for Mountain Dew’s 80th birthday. But, well, you know, let’s just say it was not a year for celebrating.

And, yes, it’s a bit odd that a beverage marketed to the younger crowd is ancient.

Anyhoo, the brand International Olympic Committee-d it and released it a year after it was supposed to. There was a limited amount to purchase via Mtn Dew’s online store, which predictably sold out within a few hours.

Mtn Dew was kind enough to send samples of the “Dew with a rush of artificial cake flavor,” and after tasting it, I have to say, if Cake-Smash came out last year, it would’ve been a bright spot of 2020. Instead, it’s a 2021 highlight. Actually, it’s a top highlight of my Mtn Dew drinking years.

If you ever get a chance to try it, you’ll probably say something that involves an expletive. Because, holy expletive, this tastes like lemon cake with frosting, and it is Y-U-M-M-I-E. I mean, it’s so good that it makes me forget how to spell.

Mtn Dew Cake Smash Glass

Although it doesn’t specifically say “birthday cake,” it was created to celebrate a birthday. So I assumed, like with birthday cake-flavored products, it would be either vanilla or chocolate cake. Of course, that was stupid because it’s a Dew, after all. Despite not being what’s considered “birthday cake” in the processed foods universe, I have to say Mtn Dew Cake-Smash captures cake flavor better than most “birthday cake” products.

I don’t know if this will ever make it into brick-and-mortar stores. But I’m going to suggest that it should, and not because I want to make a soda cake with it.

Even though I got samples, I think Cake-Smash is so wonDEWrful that I’m seriously considering spending more than one should on a six-pack on eBay. Or I could just copy and paste the following and direct it to Mtn Dew’s social media accounts every single day until Cake-Smash is in stores.

Hey @MountainDew! Don’t be a Dew Dew Head! Let me buy Cake-Smash in stores!

Childish? Yes. Will I get blocked by Mtn Dew on social media? Probably. Will I be put on a blacklist that prevents me from getting free Mtn Dew samples from now on? Probably. Is Mtn Dew Cake-Smash worth the effort? Oh, most definitely. It’s DEWlightful.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 16 fl oz can
Purchased at: Received from Mtn Dew
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 0 grams of fat, 75 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 58 grams of sugar, 58 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pepsi ‘Hot’ Chocolate Cola

Pepsi  Hot Chocolate Cola Can

Pepsi “Hot” Chocolate Cola was initially called Pepsi “Cocoa” Cola when the online sweepstakes to obtain it was announced. I don’t know if it was a phone call between soda CEOs or a letter from a very powerful law firm that charges per hour what most of us make in a week, but I imagine the name change was caused by something corporate that happened between the soda’s announcement and when these were shipped to those lucky folks who won them.

Also, that name change decision came after the product was produced. Because, according to a Reddit post, if I were to remove the can’s shrink wrapper, the original name is printed on the can.

The soda, formerly known as “Cocoa” Cola, features cocoa flavor with a hint of marshmallow mixed with Pepsi.

I had high hopes for this because the cola producer hit home runs with its recent fruity flavors, like pineapple and mango. (Mini Pepsi Zero Sugar Mango review: it’s my favorite new soda of the year so far.)

Unfortunately, Pepsi “Hot” Chocolate Cola was like a line drive hit that looked like it was going to be a home run but bounced off the outfield wall directly to a gun for an arm outfielder, who immediately throws to second base to prevent the batter, who thought it was a home run and stood in the batter’s box for too long, from getting a double.

The less bloviated, baseball-free version: It’s okay.

Pepsi  Hot Chocolate Cola Glass

Its aroma and flavor have a noticeable Tootsie Roll-ness to them. I guess that’s what happens when cocoa flavoring is mixed with Pepsi. The combination did get my brain reminiscing about Chocolate Soldier, a watery chocolate beverage that came in an unusually heavy can that none of my online snacking friends seem to know about. I also don’t taste anything marshmallow-y.

Pepsi “Hot” Chocolate Cola is unique, and if it ends up on shelves this winter, it’s definitely worth a try. But I’m not going to be clamoring for it to be sold during every holiday season like I do with Pepsi Holiday Spice.

Seriously, Pepsi. Bring it back.

Special thanks to my online reviewing friend, The Soda Jerk, for sending me a can of Pepsi “Hot” Chocolate Cola. He reviewed it for his YouTube channel, which you can watch below.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12 oz can
Purchased at: Received from The Soda Jerk
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 35 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 41 grams of sugar, 41 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Baja Flash and Baja Punch

Mtn Dew Baja Flash and Baja Punch Cans

Mtn Dew is not only good at making caffeinated fruity sodas, but it’s also good at giving those caffeinated fruity flavored beverages unique names. Think of all the Dew varieties that have ever existed and their names. Beyond Pitch Black and Pitch Black II and the Game Fuel offerings, there haven’t been many that reuse monikers.

But the popular Baja Blast now has to share its first name with new varieties — Baja Flash and Baja Punch.

With it being a pineapple coconut-flavored Dew, I’m surprised Baja Flash wasn’t called Baja Colada. Because it didn’t, I wondered if Mtn Dew was hesitant to give the soda a boozy-sounding name, but then remembered that time it offered its Spiked Lemonade line, Dew Shine, and Johnson City Gold. Also, I would’ve preferred Baja Colada because Baja Flash sounds like it would be a better name for a dune buggy.

Mtn Dew Baja Flash Closeup

As I poured some into my glass, I could smell the sweet coconut more than the golden fruit. Also, the pineapple isn’t as prevalent as the coconut when it comes to taste, but its flavor seems to stick out more in the aftertaste. The coconut might turn off some folks, but I dug it.

Pineapple isn’t new to the DEWniverse. There’s the pineapple-flavored Maui Burst, which is one of my all-time favorite Dew varieties. This isn’t as great as Maui Burst, but it’s a fine tasting Dew.

One last thing. While drinking it, one adjective that came to mind was creamy. There’s nothing creamy texture-wise, it drinks like any other soda, but the coconut flavor has me thinking it. Maybe my mind is too occupied with building a dune buggy called Baja Flash to think straight.

Mtn Dew Baja Punch Closeup

While I have no alternative names for Baja Punch, there’s a possibility that its name is a new one for Mtn Dew Solar Flare, which was a 7-Eleven fountain exclusive way back in 2014. Or it could be another name for Mtn Dew Southern Shock, a Bojangles exclusive last year. Both also are described as Dew with a tropical punch flavor. Oddly, I didn’t try either one, but Baja Punch does taste familiar to me.

When I first opened it, I smelled mango. After pouring it into the glass, I smelled pineapple. But when I drink it, I get a bit of cherry and something citrusy that could be pineapple. It’s definitely tropical punch flavored. Again, it reminds me of another Dew flavor, but I’m not sure which one. It also tastes less sweet than Baja Flash, but again, my mind might be distracted by thoughts of dune buggies.

Overall, Baja Punch is tasty, but my taste buds prefer Baja Flash.

Purchased Price: More than anyone should pay on eBay
Size: 12 fl oz cans
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Baja Flash), 7 out of 10 (Baja Punch)
Nutrition Facts: (12 fl oz) Baja Flash – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 44 grams of added sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 55 milligrams of caffeine. Baja Punch – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 44 grams of added sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 54 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Pepsi Blue (2021)

Pepsi Blue 2021 Bottle

Nostalgia is a heck of a thing.

Sometimes it can drive us to make questionable decisions like almost buying a $160 17-year-old bottle of a discontinued soft drink. Luckily for me, Pepsi decided to do a re-released, limited run of Pepsi Blue hence saving me from a financial error as well as a trip to the doctor.

I had occasionally thought of the drink over the years and wondered if I had just imagined it (hence the eBay searches). But it is very real, and that the bizarrely satisfying flavor of berry cola was mine again to drink.

Pepsi Blue was a weird blip in the timeline of soft drinks. Having a US-wide release in 2002, it would only be around for a little under two years before being pulled from US markets. Described as “Berry with a splash of Cola,” its bright blue color along with unique flavor was another attempt by Pepsi to capture the youth market. You have to also appreciate this was the peak time where Britney Spears was the face of Pepsi.

If I’m being entirely honest, I probably wouldn’t have tried this back in the early aughts if not for my school board making a (highly controversial) deal with Pepsi to put vending machines in the schools. To help sweeten the deal, they did giveaways of their newest product to help win us over. The product? Pepsi Blue.

I tried to not get too excited as I raced home to try it. I had been disappointed by re-released or retooled products brought back to cash in on nostalgia (looking at you Coke with Coffee). I reassured myself it was probably going to taste different due to different ingredients and my own tastes changing. After delaying the inevitable, I went ahead and opened the bottle.

Pepsi Blue 2021 Glass

The smell immediately triggered a strong memory of my middle school cafeteria. The berry sugar smell instantly reminded me of the many hours spent sitting at the uncomfortable tables, trying to scribble down something for class while shoving undercooked tater tots in my face.

The first sip was overwhelming in the best way. It tasted exactly how I remembered. The sweet berry-cotton candy like flavor hits first, followed by the cola taste. It’s almost an indescribable flavor profile. It’s not a cola with berry flavor (like Wild Cherry Pepsi), but a berry flavor with a hint of cola.

The best way I could think to describe it is this: imagine berry-flavored cotton candy packed into a cup. Now take an original Pepsi and slowly drip a little into the cup, letting it dissolve the cotton candy. That’s probably about as close as you can get to explaining the flavor to someone who has never tried it.

Nostalgia and middle school memories aside, Pepsi Blue is an extremely sweet (like 138% of your recommended daily sugar sweet), but enjoyable one-of-a-kind treat. In all the years since trying it for the first time, nothing else has ever even come close to it. It is also wonderful that a re-released item lived up to my memory of it when so many others have failed.

According to Pepsi, it will have an extremely limited run. So I would recommend, if you are at all interested, to give it a try. I look forward to it being re-released in another 20 years where I can wax poetic about when I tried it again in my 30s.

Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 20 oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart Neighborhood Market
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 260 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 69 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pepsi Mango

Pepsi Mango  2021 Can

Confession: I’m a mango fiend.

I love them in savory or sweet dishes, juiced or whole. When my local grocery store’s supply is paltry, I will happily enjoy artificially flavored products to get my fix. Basically, if a mango is involved, I will likely be nearby, begging for a taste and sneaking leftovers into my Tupperware container for later. My love for the precious tropical stone fruit is why I was drawn to Pepsi Mango like a thirsty fruit bat to an actual mango.

Although Pepsi Mango – Pepsi’s first permanent flavor in five years – was a new discovery for me, the world has seen its likes before. Previously introduced as a limited offering in 2019, it joined lime and berry varieties to give Pepsi Wild Cherry competition as the brand’s most beloved fruit-and-cola mashup.

(Why am I late to the Pepsi Mango party? In 2019, I was likely still distracted by the release of Diet Coke Flavors, a lineup that included a mango version of my favorite caffeine source. Alas, those products, which I found too artificial and astringent-tasting to truly love, left me disappointed.)

Pepsi Mango  2021 Pour

Forgive the gaps in my soda experiences. The important thing is that today is a new day, and I get to experience Pepsi Mango now. The product’s package promises classic Pepsi “with a splash of mango juice and other natural flavors,” and even before my first taste, the juice’s presence made itself known. The soda’s aroma is wonderful and genuinely fruity. If it weren’t for the carbonation tickling my nose, I would have thought my glass was full of fresh juice or smoothie.

Pepsi Mango  2021 Top

In the first sip, mango flavor is at the forefront. Like the Pepsi’s smell, the bright, refreshing taste is strong and unexpectedly accurate. The classic cola taste follows, and while the mango overpowers it by a mere hint, the flavors play together well. I had expected the juice ingredient to give the Pepsi an additional harsh sweetness, but somehow it wasn’t too saccharine. The tropical flavor is a natural pair to Pepsi’s citrus notes, and this combination seems to cut through the syrupy quality that dark colas can have.

Pepsi Mango also has a smoothness and overall drinkability that I would not expect from a cola. Its end result is a delicate aftertaste that almost reminds me of drinking flavored iced tea — without sacrificing the carbonated crispness. This quality, combined with its spot-on fruity flavor, elevates this soda to next-level good.

Pepsi Mango  2021 Box

Mango fans will be pleased with Pepsi’s choice to resurrect this product, which is also available in the Zero Sugar variety. (Look for both kinds in 20-ounce bottles and 12 packs of 12-ounce cans.) Come summer, I will look forward to enjoying this Pepsi again as a refreshing treat on a hot day. The only downside: the three brands of mango-flavored sparkling water stashed in my pantry now seem a lot less enticing by comparison.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 12 pack of 12 oz cans
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 12 oz can) 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 95 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 41 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.