Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Dante's Inferno First off, has anyone taken a gander at the "new look" Mountain Dew cans recently? Of course you have, and you're probably as upset as I am. You know, I remember a kinder, gentler time when the only people who drank Dew were psychos, film freaks, late night college djs, and computer programmers. Taste schmaste! We all knew that the Dew packed a wallop no other soft drink could match...17.4% more caffeine than any Coke product...40% more than Pepsi...Taco Bell was the only fast-food joint that served it...179 calories...44+ mg of sugar per 12 fluid ounces. And "fluid" is a pretty kind way to describe the syrupy, radioactive-urine-green reanimation juice that was stored in those hippy-dippy green cans!

Alright, I stood by while they aired those stupid commercials showing beautiful people jumping off cliffs, splashing in country lakes, pretending to drink the Dew. Deep in my heart of hearts I knew what the real target market was for the drink...students and others with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Those of us who needed the collosal pick-me-up that Dew provided without the thunderous crash pharmaceutical experimentation often brought. I knew that, yes, the Dew was a cruel mistress who was apt to turn on you and transform your insides into an anvil of flesh and blood that would churn for hours. I knew the risks, but I was not about to abandon my beverage of choice.

Hell, I even kept my mouth shut and continued to buy when they introduced... ugh...Diet Mountain Dew. "Believe me folks," I wanted to yell to those in charge, "no one drinking this stuff is concerned about caloric content." But I knew they would have just carted me away and stamped "Classified" on my bulging FBI file (thanks to the Wooden Shoe Book & Record Shop on 20th between Chestnut and Sansom in Philly...stop by sometime). [Ed. Note: Since the original publication of this piece, the Wooden Shoe has moved down to 4th or 5th Street between South and Lombard.]

It became tougher to hide my mounting disgust when Mountain Dew Sport and Diet Mountain Dew Sport were introduced. In a suicidal, headstrong attempt to unseat Gatorade from the sport drink throne, the madmen at PepsiCo. decided that a less carbonated, more drinkable version of Dew was just what this world needed. Wrong. First off, the caffeine and sugar in your average Dew bury any carbonation the goop may have once posessed... shake a can and then open it sometime, you'll see my point. Second, and I can't stress this enough, 90% of those who drink the Dew just aren't interested in sports or any outdoors activity...that's what was so bogus about the whole ad campaign to begin with. Sports make you tired and cut into valuable drinking/viewing/listening time. They should've marketed it as a hangover cure instead...how do you think I made it through a Friday morning, 9 to noon radio shift in college? Then they hired Bo Jackson as the spokesman...grab some hung-over, White-Castle-chompin' college student drinking a Dew sometime and ask them who the hell Bo Jackson is. If they know that he's a sports figure and not an obscure blues artist with a wooden leg, consider it a victory for all those marketing $$$.

Well, the last straw has finally been placed on the camel's back (or something to that effect). Yes, PepsiCo. (The "Co" stands for Cold Conglomerate with no Coares about the individual...the "o" in Coares is silent) has thrown down not one, but two gauntlets to Dante. 1) They've changed the labels...instead of the way-mod type and beautiful (to me at least) green-dominated can and bottle label of the past, they've adopted this very 90's "sheet of acid rain" bastardized-Dew look that drives me to delirium every time I see it. It looks like an old can that's faded due to sun exposure, not a way-hip, downtown, CLUB-MTV style drink!!! But more importantly...2) The bastards changed the formula. Trust me, why would I lie about a thing like that? You have to remember gang, I've been drinking this stuff since oh, 1976...I know what goddamn Mountain Dew is supposed to taste like. And this ain't it! Gone is the sickeningly sweet, caffeinated bolt of lightining that covered up the rapid-fire, staccato nature that your pulse was taking on. In its place is an...ack...saltier taste. Yeah, I guess that's what it really is...an instantaneously gross salt aftertaste that reminds me of the rim of a margarita glass after your fifth one in a Chi-Chi's bar.

Once I came to this realization (after several taste tests) questions instantly shot into my head: Has a salty substance been planted in the formula to make you thirstier, and thus crave more Mountain Dew? Are the vats being used to create the intentionally-salty Sport formulas also being used to create the normally un-healthy Dew? Could it be possible that PepsiCo. has not invested in an anti-siphon device to prevent the Sport drink from contaminating the sugar and caffein-caked lines to regular Dew? Is a giant conspiracy in the works? Could Anton LeVay be right about "The Invisible War"? Trust me -- your eyes and ears of the exploitation trenches -- to get to the bottom of this and report back in the next Dante's Inferno!

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