Just as I was graduating high school, Mountain Dew released what I maintain was the best dew ever in their DEWmocracy campaign. All three Dews this year were great. I had a riot with Revolution, Voltage, and the gem of the bunch, Supernova. Supernova reminded me why I started drinking Mountain Dew. As a non-coffee drinker, I had to find another means of consuming caffeine. Supernova was absolutely perfect at any time of day. I often drank it right after brushing my teeth in the morning, with my lunch, or if I was staying up late. It became a staple of my life in 2008. It was smooth, flavorful, and unique. It was the Swiss Army Knife of sodas; it fulfilled every requirement I have ever had for a beverage. It became my drink. I was ecstatic when it returned for a brief stint after I graduated from college. It helped the transition into the real world by reminding me that I wasn’t changing into some final human form, but rather just taking on new responsibilities. It kept me grounded.
I dabbled around in Gamer Fuel, which I must admit, I love. I don’t game hardcore, but the flavors are good and it feels like I can count on the flavors at least once a year. Another round of DEWmocracy Dews came and went and I enjoyed the next three because of they brought a fresh Dew experience to what many would consider a seasoned Dew drinker. The same went with the Dark Knight Dew edition. I love new Dews because it is my chance to see how Mountain Dew wants to express its next movement. When I saw that Mountain Dew was releasing a juice beverage, I couldn’t have been more excited. Could this be what I have been waiting for? Might I finally have a new breakfast Dew? My thoughts raced and they soon became dreams of how my life may change with a breakfast juice/Mountain Dew hybrid to begin each day. I was hyped and couldn’t wait to try this new Dew experience.
February 25th of 2013 rolled around and I began my search. I didn’t go out of my way to find this drink, but I did keep two dollars of cash in my wallet on the off chance that was the only way I would be allowed to pay for it. For almost two weeks I was on the lookout for the new breed of soda. Today, March 8, 2013, I was buying popcorn for the machine at work and I found it! It was sitting in the front of Walgreens, right in the corner on the way to the checkout line. I had done it – these Dews were mine! I happily strolled to the counter and paid for the cans of juice/soda. Courtesy of some screwy rules in the FDA, this is technically a juice product. That’s a whole other set of writings on how I feel about how Kickstart can be considered a juice product.
Since they were stored in the corner of the store, the Kickstarts were very warm. I threw them in the fridge and began to do some work. It is surprisingly hard to concentrate on spreadsheets when salivating over the Pandora’s Box of Mountain Dew products, but I endured. I knew the best experience would be had if the Dews were chilled, so I let them sit. Finally, the afternoon slump came around and I had a great excuse to get up, walk around, and ingest some caffeine. I headed straight to the refrigerator and grabbed the orange Kickstart. I love orange juice and orange soda and the color orange, so this was an easy decision. With a pull of the tab, the seal cracked and I was ready to enter soda nirvana.
As the first drops disappeared from my tongue, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise. I could tell immediately that this juice was sweetened with an artificial sweetener. I took a peek at the nutrition facts and ingredients label and there was the proof. Two different artificial sweeteners as well as some high fructose corn syrup. I know many people cannot taste the difference in a food-thing which is artificially sweetened, but it turned me off right away. I then discovered it was a low calorie drink. What good is the gym membership if I’m drinking low calorie Mountain Dew? It was a disaster. I was completely let down. This over-sweetened juice tasted pretty terrible, but I made myself drink further. Perhaps I would grow accustomed to the flavors, or maybe my taste buds would get it together and figure out why Mountain Dew decided to release this product.
Unfortunately, I only made it half way through the orange Kickstart before dumping it down the drain of the semi-public bathroom on our floor. I was disheartened but I knew I still had one in the fridge. And this flavor had been likened to Tahitian Treat – one of my all-time favorite sodas from my childhood. Before I drowned my disappointment with the second Kickstart, I glanced at the label and was again disappointed; it had the same ingredients and calorie count as the first Dew. This didn't deter my efforts to enjoy the soda. I cracked the top with the same enthusiasm (granted, with much more desperation) as I greeted the first. It smelled amazing so I took my first swig.
It was awful. I understand why it was likened to Tahitian Treat. The same basic flavor goal was approached by both beverages, but where Tahitian Treat does sweet, Kickstart did flat. I took another sip in complete disbelief. How could Mountain Dew have missed the mark by so much? Did anyone taste these before they hit the market? I had so many questions as I walked to the bathroom to quickly dispose of my most recent mistake. I am not sure if it is grief or the quality of the drink, but the experience has left me queasy. I always encourage everyone to experience something for themselves before making a decision, but I would like to make it known that I will never buy a Mountain Dew Kickstart again if they keep the same recipe. It is the opposite of enjoyable to me.
I am sorry to Mountain Dew for the possibly hard to hear remarks. Fear not, I am not leaving the Mt. Dew family for good. You dew too much good for me to turn my back on all of your products for one little mistake (see what I did there?!). I hope this can be a learning experience for you – a chance to get better. The idea was great – the execution was not on this one. Thank you for the effort, but for now, I look forward to trying your next product.