That Thing You Dew
May 22, 2015 9:03 AM   Subscribe

How Mountain Dew Came to Perpetuate a Deep-Seated Appalachian Stereotype As Mountain Dew taps into tropes of corn-syrup-free authenticity and nostalgia for "backwoods" "renegades" and "rebels" with its throwback drink Dewshine, a daughter of Appalachia considers how the beverage reflects cultural stereotypes. posted by Miko (100 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
this is the most embarrassed i've ever felt for a soda
posted by p3on at 9:19 AM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


She makes a lot of good points, but the thing I did not know is how embarrassed I should be for being largely powered by DMD. Coffee can give me stomachaches, so I've been relying on it for my caffeine for years now.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I grew up in Eastern and Middle TN (Kingsport and Murfreesboro TN) and I don't remember Mountain Dew being something on my radar culturally until I moved to Oregon in 1993 and Moutain Dew was what all the snowboarders drank and it was EXTREME!!!. This was the 80's and early 90's though, so things obviously change.
posted by josher71 at 9:23 AM on May 22, 2015


The moment the forefathers of Mountain Dew® poured that crystal-clear heartland elixir into unmarked jugs, DEWshine became an underground favorite.

I have to admit, I almost admire the dexterity with which they're skating very, very close to the thing they want people to associate with their soda while maintaining plausible deniability. Good copy-writing, but also hopelessly absurd.
posted by clockzero at 9:24 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll be honest: I never heard or knew about Mountain Dew being associated with Applachians. To me, Mountain Dew was always something hyperactive skater kids I knew I drank.
posted by Kitteh at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


... It's blue, right? ... (been waiting years to drop this one 'round these parts...)
posted by jkaczor at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2015


this is the most embarrassed i've ever felt for a soda

At least, since the last time a soda company did something dumb for advertising (Dr. Pepper Ten, "Not For Women").

See also: top 10 bad beverage ideas, a listicle from TIME.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Growing up, Mountain Dew was always a kind of mythical gamer drink to me because my Jolt cola drinking nerd friends were always in awe of the fact that the american stuff had more caffiene than coke!

I didn't even realize that it had any kind of links to Appalachia until the last few years. It's always been a gamer/skater/boarder EXTREME thing in my mind.

Don't the Appalachians all drink Faygo anyways?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:28 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Faygo was not a thing for me, at least. Regular old coke/seven up etc.. and some times Cheerwine.
posted by josher71 at 9:30 AM on May 22, 2015


Don't the Appalachians all drink Faygo anyways?

I thought Faygo was more of a Michigan/Indiana thing.
posted by Foosnark at 9:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Growing up, I was always under the impression that they didn’t sell Mountain Dew to anybody but teenage boys, and that teenage boys have since moved on to Monster Energy Drinks…
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Faygo is predominately found (and celebrated) in Juggalo-heavy areas throughout the Midwest.
posted by witchen at 9:32 AM on May 22, 2015


Find your Faygo
posted by josher71 at 9:36 AM on May 22, 2015


"I never heard or knew about Mountain Dew being associated with Applachians"

It was invented in Tennessee as a drink mixer back in the 1930s.
posted by I-baLL at 9:37 AM on May 22, 2015


My association of Mt. Dew with Appalachia primarily arises from the news reports on dental problems in Appalachia which generally feature an elementary school child chugging down a 2 liter.
posted by Atreides at 9:38 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought Faygo was more of a Michigan/Indiana thing.

ICP happened - they tend to reject materialism and instead promote inexpensive luxuries like a regional variety of soda. As a result, marginalized white kids everywhere ask for it because their Michigander musical heroes claim to enjoy it. Hasn't made it up here to New England yet, but it's all over Central VA and West Virgina, a long way from the Midwest.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Supposedly Mountain Dew and bourbon is a reasonable combination. It's hard to imagine.

I knew about the Appalachian connection but I've never seen anyone actually treat it as a class/culture signifier. Like, it's an option in most fast food restaurants and movie theaters. Many people with no connection to Appalachia drink it. If I get a Mountain Dew with my terrible fast food meal, nobody even notices. It's not scrapple or something where it really is associated with a particular region and culture.

Maybe people have more of these associations in the mid-Atlantic?
posted by vogon_poet at 9:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, is it really necessary to figure out whether Mountain Dew is "really" Appalachian? For the author it is, and it's deeply connected with a sense of shame about her upbringing and home.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:47 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Possibly relevant: Dylan & Cash singing their version of the old standard: "Good Ol' Mountain Dew"
posted by gyusan at 9:49 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Eastern and Middle TN (Kingsport and Murfreesboro TN) and I don't remember Mountain Dew being something on my radar culturally until I moved to Oregon

Yeah, I had family in Middle TN from the mid-80s onward, and whenever we visited, the MD-alike-of-choice was either Mello Yello or Sun Drop, never Mountain Dew. It has never occurred to me--although I know why it's called Mountain Dew--that there's any sort of lolhillbillies associated with it.

Also I love Diet Mountain Dew and will probably buy myself a 20oz on the way home today, so ... marketing success?
posted by uncleozzy at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2015


Came to post "good ol Mountain Dew" lyrics, was upstaged by gyusan
posted by jazon at 9:55 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


True story: As a kid, our family was government cheese poor. I tasted MtD at a friend's house when I was about 9. It tasted like nectar of the gods. Now that I am wealthy enough to buy more expensive, sophisticated beverages like Monster Energy Drink, I rarely touch MtD.
posted by rankfreudlite at 9:57 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, is it really necessary to figure out whether Mountain Dew is "really" Appalachian? For the author it is, and it's deeply connected with a sense of shame about her upbringing and home.

Well, it's hard to understand where the author is coming from when you don't really get the connection. It's like someone from Vermont being like: "maple syrup was such a huge part of my upbringing but it's really bad for me so now I feel like a bad person for drinking it." And the rest of us are like "huh, I guess yeah people from Vermont do like their maple syrup a lot and it seems like it would be bad for you if you overindulged but ok then you eat those pancakes"

And then there's me who is soda-pop-geographic-location-and-socioeconomic-demographic-correlation challenged who was like "but I thought maple syrup came from Quebec*?"

So, it sucks that she feel shame about her upbringing obviously (and none of us would want to perpetuate that) but it's hard to see why she focuses on this thing that originated in the area (but obviously has cross-country appeal) as opposed to other things that appalachians get shamed about like banjo music.

*the difference being that of course that canadians are obviously better at maple syrup
posted by sparklemotion at 10:01 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've read this before, but the only place I would have ever have read it was here. For some reason a MD/Nascar/shine thing is pinging my radar.
posted by nevercalm at 10:02 AM on May 22, 2015


I wouldn't go anywhere near the stuff, corn syrup or not, but this is an appropriate post, today being MtDewd's birthday.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2015


Would people feel as open to chiding me or ribbing me about the drink if I were a man? Probably not. Would people feel like they could tease if I didn’t have a fleck of twang in my voice, if I didn’t slide deeper into my mountain accent after a couple of drinks? That’s definitely a no.

Huh? Yes and yes. I like her writing style and I think she likely has something interesting to say about shame, but I believe she's doing a lot of projecting here. I don't think that most people across the US actually strongly associate Mountain Dew with Appalachia. The moonshine origins of the name are considered a quirky bit of trivia. There's a little bit of regional association similar to the determinants of cola loyalty in other parts of the south between Coca Cola or Pepsi. (But if you aren't familiar with the way people in the south often grow up with STRONG FEELINGS about cola brands that go beyond mere personal preference, you probably didn't know that Mt Dew is to Appalachia what Co-Cola is to Georgia and Alabama.)

Mountain Dew is a massively popular caffeine-delivery-vehicle for people who don't like coffee. If anything, I associate it with a bland middle-of-the-road suburban mindset. Teenagers playing video games all night. Parents in their SUVs waiting to pick up their kid from school. Affection for chain restaurants of the Olive Garden/Applebees tier. It's scoffed at in urbane circles, but because it's common, not because it's country.
posted by desuetude at 10:12 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I drink a classier brand of sugar-water than you, see.

sparklemotion: " but it's really bad for me so now I feel like a bad person for drinking it."

But it's not just that it's bad for you health-wise, but if you grew up somewhere that took this as normal, every time someone reacts with "Mountain Dew? Lol!" it's a reminder of that cultural difference.
posted by RobotHero at 10:14 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


FYI, one place I remember seeing a connection between MD and Appalachia / southern poverty / "hillbilly" is in the intro to David Sedaris' "You Can't Kill the Rooster":

When I was young, my father was transferred, and our family moved from western New York State to Raleigh, North Carolina. IBM had relocated a great many northerners, and, together, we made relentless fun of our new neighbors and their poky, backward way of life. Rumors circulated that locals ran stills out of their toolsheds and referred to their house cats as "good eatin'." Our parents coached us never to use the titles ma'am or sir when speaking to a teacher or shopkeeper. Tobacco was acceptable in the form of a cigarette, but should any of us experiment with plug or snuff, we would be automatically disinherited. Mountain Dew was forbidden, and our speech was monitored for the slightest hint of a Raleigh accent. Use the word y'all and, before you knew it, you'd find yourself in a haystack French-kissing an underage goat. Along with grits and hush puppies, the abbreviated form of"you all" was a dangerous step on an insidious path leading straight to the doors of the Baptist church.
posted by mean square error at 10:17 AM on May 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm struck by the similarities of theme that I see between this article and the Sandra Bernhard FPP.

In both cases, the authors seem to be projecting their self-loathing into the comments made to them by others.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I grew up in Maryland, and to us it was associated with "do the Dew," which (in our circle) usually meant "stay up till dawn playing Age of Empires." I've never associated it with anything even remotely Appalachian, aside from the name (which I figured out much later). It was the less-caffeine-than-Jolt-but-easier-to-find soda.

It's interesting that she has these associations with it. It's OK if there's an element of projection, because I think this is mostly about her own sense of shame anyway - if people are saying "ew" when she drinks something she grew up with, that's not imagined.

If there's any analogue from Maryland it would be crab chips ("that sounds disgusting," says everyone), but then "if you cut me open, you'd find some Old Bay right there in my bloodstream" doesn't sound nearly as good.
posted by teponaztli at 10:19 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mountain Dew is the soda of choice in my rural home county in southern Indiana (or at least it was in the 90s/00s). I think I saw more teachers drink mountain dew than coffee in the mornings. I haven't really seen it too much since I moved to the East Coast but it was everywhere when I was growing up.

fwiw, I do associate it with Appalachia as well as poorer rural areas in the midwest (and also gamers, seperately). I don't think the author is making this up or imagining it.

If anything, I associate it with a bland middle-of-the-road suburban mindset. Teenagers playing video games all night. Parents in their SUVs waiting to pick up their kid from school. Affection for chain restaurants of the Olive Garden/Applebees tier. It's scoffed at in urbane circles, but because it's common, not because it's country.

More popular than Coke? More popular than Sprite?
posted by geegollygosh at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I recently found out a bushel of crabs here in Baltimore cost 390 dollars which came out to about 5.50 a crab. This seemed ludicrously expensive to me and I said so but every native Marylander I asked about it said they'd pay that much for crabs no problem. Mind still boggled.
posted by josher71 at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Coffee can give me stomachaches, so I've been relying on it for my caffeine for years now.

Good lord -- do you make your coffee with sulfuric acid or something similar?

For me, it's been the opposite - Mountain Dew would tear up my stomach like absolutely nothing else. Granted, I know everyone is different -- I'm just surprised that Mountain Dew is the "gentler" option.

(aside: you may like cold press coffee if it's a pure acidity thing for you.)
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2015


fwiw, I do associate it with Appalachia as well as poorer rural areas in the midwest (and also gamers, seperately). I don't think the author is making this up or imagining it.

I don't think so either - personally, what I meant was just that it may not be an association outside of that region. Like how Cactus Cooler is associated with LA, but probably only if you're in LA. So everyone else is thinking it's gross, but to her it's this more personal connection - and she's feeling shame because she knows it's an Appalachian thing even if other people don't.
posted by teponaztli at 10:30 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've never even heard of Cactus Cooler but I'm glad I know who to shame now. *jots note*
posted by josher71 at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2015




" It was the less-caffeine-than-Jolt-but-easier-to-find soda."

QFT.
posted by I-baLL at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vogon Poet: I knew about the Appalachian connection but I've never seen anyone actually treat it as a class/culture signifier.

As someone from Appalachia a long time ago, I have to say I never noticed that people don't drink it as frequently elsewhere. But inside and outside Appalachia, it is definitely a class signifier with resonance in Appalachia. I had high school friends who would start the day by saying "I need me a Mountain Dew."

I'm having a hard time thinking of specifics though. I recall a previous discussion of soda/mountain dew fed to children in this discussion of rural hunger in Tennessee, but it looks like the inciting comment (along the lines of a judgy - "poverty sure, but wow, some bad decisions there, feeding mountain dew to a child") was deleted, leaving only a couple of responses.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Before reading this article, if someone had asked me "What sorts of people drink Mountain Dew?" I would have answered "Nerds. Gamers. People playing Dungeons & Dragons, or building computers." At the same time, if someone had asked me "What soft drink is popular, to the point of stereotype, in poor Appalachian communities?" I would have had no answer. Literally no idea at all.

I eschew caffeine in all forms, anyway.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I tasted MtD at a friend's house when I was about 9. It tasted like nectar of the gods.

Yep. It still does taste that way to me sometimes, and I have supposedly better tastes now.

Coffee can give me stomachaches, so I've been relying on it for my caffeine for years now.

Coffee gives me panic attacks, so I usually drink Water Joe, but when I really want a jolt to wake me up, Diet Mountain Dew it is.

If anything, I associate it with a bland middle-of-the-road suburban mindset. Teenagers playing video games all night. Parents in their SUVs waiting to pick up their kid from school. Affection for chain restaurants of the Olive Garden/Applebees tier. It's scoffed at in urbane circles, but because it's common, not because it's country.

Yeah, it's so suburban. The other guy at my former workplace who used to drink it a lot—always the sugary version, almost like a badge of honor, whereas I was all about the Diet Mountain Dew—was also from North St. Louis County (he grew up in Ferguson; I grew up in Florissant just down the road), and it was kind of a touchstone for us in some way, comfort food, even though I am well aware that any foodlike qualities it might have are artificial and that brominated vegetable oil is potentially dangerous and at best still not good for me.
posted by limeonaire at 10:49 AM on May 22, 2015


This shows that Dew is most popular in KY.

Wow, that's a surprising link, thanks. Another example where we should maybe stop talking and listen to the woman a moment before trying to overlay our own experiences. Just because we're familiar with the product as a youth-branded suburban caffeine delivery system, does not mean that's the only, or even predominant, cultural perception of the product.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:50 AM on May 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


... brominated vegetable oil is potentially dangerous and at best still not good for me.

Apparently you will have one less reason to feel bad about drinking Mt. Dew, as AP has confirmed with Pepsi that Mountain Dew and Amp energy drinks will be going BVO-free, but couldn’t get a timeline for the removal (as of May 6, 2014).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's so suburban.

Maybe it is in your experience of it, but the map that was posted shows that it is most popular in states that are predominantly rural-- namely KY, WV, SD, and IN.

It's been interesting to see just how many (and varied!) stereotypes come along with mountain dew based on where someone is from.
posted by geegollygosh at 11:16 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd never heard of the Mountain Dew / Appalachia connection and doubt that most Americans have, despite the name kinda making sense. If there is a stereotype associated with the typical Mountain Dew drinker, I think it's probably either a teenaged boy, or maybe a basement-dwelling nerd of some sort, depending on who you ask.

I'm not downplaying the author's experiences in terms of how drinking Mountain Dew makes her feel, those are her own, but I don't think that most people are going to look at someone drinking it and assume they're from Appalachia. I just don't think most people have the background on the history of the product to even make that association. At least not on the East Coast; maybe in the midwest it's different. Soft drinks are a very regional thing, one of the last holdouts in an increasingly homogenized consumer culture, and the messages that your choice of drinks sends vary based on location; someone drinking Moxie in Brooklyn is going to be the subject of different assumptions than someone drinking Moxie in, say, Millinocket.

The elephant in the room is that sodas in general are increasingly a lower-class status signifier, though, with certain exceptions (glass-bottle Coke from Mexico, weirdo artisanal sodas, mixers). The apparent/claimed reason is increasing health-consciousness and a rejection of HFCS and stuff, but personally I think it has more to do with a generational pendulum effect pushing back against stuff that was cool a generation ago. I mean, who in the 1970s or 80s would have thought that unsweetened iced tea would be cool in 2015? I think a lot of it is just people looking for a way to differentiate themselves from products they had as kids, and do so in manner that marks them as members of a superior class.

Whatever the cause, it has people in the carbonated beverage industry pants-shittingly afraid for the future, because "carbonateds" are a hugely profitable segment for them. Losses in the bottled market can be replaced with bottled water, bottled teas, etc., but it's harder to make up for syrup sales. (And in some companies the carbonated and non-carbonated beverages are different divisions with their own advertising budgets and little interest in seeing consumers switch over to the other side.) So you're seeing some weird desperation as the beverage companies try to keep carbonated beverages relevant to younger and more well-off consumers... the MtD goat ads, and the Dr Pepper "not for women" ads before that, seem to be a direct product of that "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" desperation. Which will probably continue, since the downside risk to producing an offensive ad is relatively low (pull the ad, apologize on Twitter), but the upside potential of 'buzz' and 'edginess' is seen as so high in an existential struggle for relevance.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't think so either - personally, what I meant was just that it may not be an association outside of that region. Like how Cactus Cooler is associated with LA, but probably only if you're in LA. So everyone else is thinking it's gross, but to her it's this more personal connection - and she's feeling shame because she knows it's an Appalachian thing even if other people don't.

Count me, a youngish lifelong Californian, as also quite unaware of which mountains were referred to or what the "dew" was. I thought it was supposed to invoke "extreme" and "pristine." But apparently until 1969 they had a cartoon moonshiner mascot, "Willy the Hillbilly," who even got some TV play when PepsiCo first bought the brand. It seems that for a long time Pepsi was itself trying to escape MtnDew's Appalachian associations, and through the power of marketing largely succeeded with those of us who live outside the region. But I'm sure for those who do live there it still means something different.
posted by atoxyl at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anybody who really knows anything about appalachia knows that appalachians drink SunDrop.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:39 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


... brominated vegetable oil is potentially dangerous and at best still not good for me.

Apparently you will have one less reason to feel bad about drinking Mt. Dew, as AP has confirmed with Pepsi that Mountain Dew and Amp energy drinks will be going BVO-free, but couldn’t get a timeline for the removal (as of May 6, 2014).


Yay. I'm waiting...

P.S. I only just realized why I had "That Thing You Do" in my head. Closing this tab now...
posted by limeonaire at 11:40 AM on May 22, 2015


Gotta do something with all that leftover reactor coolant from Oak Ridge.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


All of you saying you didn't know about MD's Appalachian connection have obviously never seen their old advertisements.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


My parents who grew up as the last true Appalachians inf my family (we kids were born outside of the mountains with only the occasional once in a decade visit back to the ancestral lands), the choice of drink in the 50's and 60's was generally RC Cola or Coke (for special occasions). Growing up in the Piedmont of Virginia, to me, it was just the high caffineated drink that some claimed reduced a male's drinker sperm count or make their privates shrin (I scoffed and enjoyed a bottle every morning when I was in high school). I think the Mountain Dew in this article is not necessarily the main problem for the author, it's a flash point, based on a general weariness of the stereotypes of Appalachians she has to confront on a daily basis. Near the end she writes:
The seemingly relentless desire to perpetuate negative regional stereotypes (rotting teeth! no shoes!) is completely exhausting. Time and time again, Appalachians are portrayed as individuals who are unable to get out of their own way—the kind of people who must have change enacted upon them in order to better themselves.
As she's an avid drinker of MDM, it's just front and foremost as a topic for those around her to pick up on - especially as she notes, her twang doesn't really come out until after she's had a few. As a Southerner living in a weird place that's neither the north or the south, but surrounded by quite a few people who disregard certain Southern qualities they exhibit and strongly affirm to themselvesand to others by their behavior, that they are not Southern, I get to benefit from their amused and self-identified clever jokes and commentary about me and my family history based on being from the South. It gets old. I understand where she's coming from. I hope she gets the chance to enjoy a nice ice cold MDM sometime today.

P.S. Here's the advertising being used right now for "Throwback" Mountain Dew.
posted by Atreides at 11:52 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Here in Indiana, Mountain Dew is definitely seen as a hallmark of a lower-class person. That's why I've been trying lately to break my decades-long addiction to it. Well, that and my dentist's dire warnings over the years that are starting to come true.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:53 AM on May 22, 2015


Possibly relevant: Dylan & Cash singing their version of the old standard

If it isn't Stringbean's version, I'm not interested.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh. I had absolutely no cultural awareness of Mountain Dew being associated with Appalachia either. I had never made the connection with the name until they reintroduced the hillbilly mascot for the "throwback" version they came out with a few years ago, but even since then I'd never heard anything about it being especially associated with that region.

Growing up in whitebread New England in the 1970s and 80s, Mountain Dew was just another kind of soda you could get at some places. (True Fact: Mountain Dew tastes best when served in a pebbly translucent red plastic cup in a dimly lit Pizza Hut.) I don't remember it being associated with any particular image or demographic until the 1990s "Dew the dew" campaign. Which I guess was pretty successful because now Mountain Dew as all-nighter-coding-or-gaming-or-EXTREEEEME-SPORTS-fuel for young males is now a pretty well established cultural trope.
posted by usonian at 11:59 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like Mountain Dew. Am I a bad person?

I do say yeehaw sometimes
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:08 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm allergic to BVO ,which is in opaque citrus soda in the US.I was very pleased to see that Canadian companies don't use it.
posted by brujita at 12:24 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ski is the one true citrus-flavored soda of the South
posted by Metafilter Username at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2015


Mountain Dew is a massively popular caffeine-delivery-vehicle for people who don't like coffee.

In Canada, Mountain Dew used to be uncaffeinated (though Wikipedia says that this is no longer the case). I was surprised to discover that the U.S. version contained caffeine.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2015


I'm from Appalachia (KY) and do research on Appalachian culture (broadly). Mountain Dew is very very active in my mind and experience as an Appalachian thing and a regional class marker. Sun Drop is big in Tennessee and southwestern KY, because it is widely distributed there. But, in the mountains--particularly in Eastern Kentucky and WV--you almost exclusively see MD being bought and sold.

I would submit that most of the ignorance of that association--and some of the more doubtful doubt cast on the author's experience--is part and parcel of the sort of ignorance that lots and lots of US Americans have about Appalachia. You might not know it in Chicago, Portland, Texas or NY, but they know it in Louisville and Charleston and Knoxville: Mountain Dew is what the poor people in the mountains run on. So, if you're one of those people from around the mountains and you drink MD, you will quickly realize what that says about you in the regional urban centers.
posted by still bill at 12:48 PM on May 22, 2015 [16 favorites]


Also: as touched on upthread, there is debate about how much of the 'meth mouth' in KY is actually 'Mountain Dew mouth' (I hate both terms, and the shit that comes along with them, but it's a real discussion in KY, so there you have it).
posted by still bill at 12:51 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


PepsiCo's new Mountain Dew Kickstart flavors target 'cross-cultural milennial males'

Can someone tell me what is meant by cross-cultural in this context?
posted by cell divide at 1:08 PM on May 22, 2015


Is this a newer thing? My 18 years in TN were awhile ago and I remember Mello Yello, Sundrop, and Mountain Dew, but didn't have the associations. I guess there is a bigger gulf between the states than I thought. I guess it is well known in New Orleans.

The better alternative to "meth mouth" etc... is "limited medical access"?
posted by josher71 at 1:09 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


As my profile states, I started drinking it when there was a hillbilly on the bottle, so I get the reference.
I think the Mountain Dew brand was saved by the skater/snowboarder change. It was hard to find in the 80's, at least in the mid-Atlantic states, but came back strong with the new image.

I was born in the south, but have lived 99% of my time in the northeast, so that's not the reason I like it. I like the citrus, and I don't really like the citrus in other drinks, although yesterday I had a Fresca for the first time in decades (flying, through non-Pepsi airports), and that might work for me when I don't need the caffeine.
I switched to diet a dozen years ago for calorie intake reasons. I'm not real thrilled about the phenylalinine, but at least they got rid of the Propylene Glycol.
I like the yellow #5, though- I have a calibrated beaker at my desk that I sometimes drink out of. Great visual.
(I also have a sign over my desk- "There is no try, only Dew"

I'll see if I can petition cortex to change my user name to DMD.
posted by MtDewd at 1:51 PM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I do say yeehaw sometimes
Umm, that's Ya-hooo!
posted by MtDewd at 1:58 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The better alternative to "meth mouth" etc... is "limited medical access"?


Yeah, of course. But you only need to be about an hour or two out of the mountains before that gets lost and it becomes just another thing poor people have failed at.
posted by still bill at 2:33 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid in the 70's my dad frequently sang "Good Ol' Mountain Dew" around the house in an exaggerated Southern accent. I knew that stills were associated with hillbillies, but never really made an Appalachia connection.
posted by bendy at 2:34 PM on May 22, 2015


All of you saying you didn't know about MD's Appalachian connection have obviously never seen their old advertisements.

I remember those being very prominent in western North Carolina in the early 1970s. ("It'll tickle yore innards"--not exactly Don Draper stuff.) You'd see them on or in little independent stores and gas stations in the mountains. Sometime between then and the end of the 70s we must have gotten the MD branding that we have today.
posted by gimonca at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


hillbillies, but never really made an Appalachia connection.

Though it is a slur, I understand "hillbilly" to be a largely overlapping Venn diagram with "Appalachian" (as in, the "hills" being referenced are the Appalachian mountains and their foothills). It's interesting me that people today could know both words and not link them.
posted by Miko at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2015


I did because of David Sedaris books.

Now I associate it with those who are serious about needing a ton of caffeine to jumpstart their brains .
posted by discopolo at 3:16 PM on May 22, 2015


Dew was the gamer's drink of choice here in Northern California. At least for as long as I can remember (20yrs or so}. I didn't know it was considered a regional thing until this FPP. It was always a demographic thing, male 13 to 25.

It's not nearly as popular as Rockstar and Monster are now. I see their respective star and M stickers at least a few times a day.
posted by M Edward at 3:40 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Older folks will remember this commercial.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2015


Hillbilly is used in Utah too.

Latino Americans managed to get the Frito Bandito commercials removed from TV ( though they can be seen today on youtube). I don't know what Pepsi was thinking when they decided to revive this.
posted by brujita at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2015


"brominated vegetable oil"

Ew. As someone who doesn't drink any commercial soft drinks apart from carbonated water, this doesn't make me want to try it.

That's something that gets me about a lot of commercial soft drinks (well, and other foods, too)... pretending that they are somehow wholesome and natural and made to Grandmother's original recipe, while actually being distillates of Pure Evil (and probably Hydrogenated Pure Evil, at that)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:41 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hillbilly is used everywhere now. I have a friend from Chelsea, MA, that calls the ignoramus racist white guys he grew up with "hillibillies." But I never realized that recent expansions of the usage would make its origin ambiguous for people, even when extrapolated.
posted by Miko at 4:45 PM on May 22, 2015


I tried on of these sodas. Not bad. Oddly, M-W defined a hillbilly as a Michigan dirt farmer in some early editions.
posted by clavdivs at 4:48 PM on May 22, 2015


I like Dew, especially as someone who can't stand coffee. If I need a wake-up beverage, Mt. Dew is as good as it gets.

Had no idea on the redneck stereotyping thing. If anything, it might be a gamer thing on the West Coast.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2015


Dew Dewshine not available within fifty miles of New York City. Kind of annoying, really.
posted by BWA at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2015


has anyone else here actually tried Dewshine? it tastes like flat sprite. a very uninspiring entry into the canon of mild lemon lime sodas. MD is usually hit or miss with their flavors, but their hits (livewire and pitch black specifically) are some of the best sodas ever made.

in contrast to dewshine, sprite's lebron mix is surprisingly excellent, despite the marketing angle i think it might actually be an improvement over the original.

i am a soda nerd.
posted by JimBennett at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dew Dewshine not available within fifty miles of New York City. Kind of annoying, really.

pepsi's product tracker is garbage, it says the same thing about boston and yet i was able to find some literally across the street from my home. take a look around, you'll probably turn it up.
posted by JimBennett at 6:44 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Turns out yes, Mountain Dew is great with whiskey. Good job hartman bros.

Unlike say jack and coke, you can actually taste the whiskey flavor, it just cuts all the bad tastes that come from cheap bourbon.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2015


has anyone else here actually tried Dewshine?

It's here in Tiverton. I've since been converted completely to Pepsi Maxx and regular soda now tastes like chugging generic pancake syrup, but, yeah. This is going to be a flop. Gamers and coders and over-booked general contractors are not going to buy Southerner Guy Soda. They have a Sangria flavored Mtn. Dew, and it's literally hovering in the air before my eyes at the Hess, and disembodied gold coins materialize on the counter with digital "kating" sounds as it flies out the door. The Old Timey Confederate Moonshiner Soda... is not meant for us. Was never meant for us. They're just chucking it against the wall to see if it will stick. Damn. This thread is eye-opening.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2015


M-W defined a hillbilly as a Michigan dirt farmer in some early editions.

er....cite? I checked Google Books, not there. The only place it did turn up was Urban Dictionary.
posted by Miko at 7:01 PM on May 22, 2015


I drank Mountain Dew because I didn't like coffee until I was well into my 20s and it was a well-known fact that Mountain Dew had more caffeine than Coke, which I like the taste of better. Now, I drink Mountain Dew if I'm in the mood for soda at a restaurant that has Pepsi products because I don't like most Pepsi products. I don't love the taste of Mountain Dew, but I think I'm just sort of accustomed to it. I didn't realize until much, much later that the association with the "extreme" kind of thrill-seeking culture and my fondness for Mountain Dew probably both had to do with the way people who are inclined towards AD(H)D sometimes feel more themselves on stimulants.

The only thing that makes Dewshine tempting to me is the hope that it tastes slightly less like it's made out of soda water and the stuff that made the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it's still a higher caffeine content. I dunno if I'll really try it. Mostly I prefer coffee and iced tea, now. Or amphetamines. I'd rather go cold-turkey off stimulants than drink anything actually marketed as an "energy drink", so far.
posted by Sequence at 7:07 PM on May 22, 2015


People seem to make a lot out of the "more caffeine than other sodas" thing, but it's such a tiny amount more, especially as compared to tea and coffee. It's really hard to believe 6-8 milligrams is going to make a huge difference to the way a regular caffeine drinker feels. According to this chart that's less than the difference between Folgers and Maxwell House, for instance. Though they certainly aren't shy about marketing it as if it's some kind of mega-caffeine blast, in the grand scheme, it's not.
posted by Miko at 7:15 PM on May 22, 2015


Miko, the carbonation may boost the caffeine absorption time, compared to that of tea or coffee.
posted by discopolo at 7:29 PM on May 22, 2015


It's more than a 60% increase over Coca-Cola. Which is a lot; and 20oz of Mountain Dew is equivalent to a can of Red Bull.

But yes, a lot of people don't realize the ludicrous amounts of caffeine in coffee, which is seen as somehow wholesome and normal compared to the youthful depravity of energy drinks, even though they have way less caffeine.

And really the most economical choice is store-brand no-doz
posted by vogon_poet at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2015


Well, it's more like a 55% increase (35mg to 54), but still, in neither case is it an especially high amount of caffeine. And the carbonation-increasing-absorption thing doesn't seem markedly supported.

Caffeine is just one of those things I don't think people think especially well about. It seems like basically it's about pace rather than total dosage or absorption rates: "the optimal use of caffeine is likely to involve small, hourly doses along with some cardioprotective agent. Given the high solubility of caffeine, absorption time should not be an issue (but if for some reason it is, try gum)."

In any case, it's no question that beverages like MD both overtly and covertly promote their promise as a caffeinated beverage. But if you really want caffeine, coffee or tea are more potent options. I suppose if you want sweetened caffeine, then MD or similar is your thing, but it's weaker, so you'd have to drink a lot more of it. You see how this works out for them.
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on May 22, 2015


Yeah, "Caffeine absorption is slightly delayed from soda and chocolate relative to coffee,[37][38][39] and capsules have faster absorption than does coffee.[38]", and also, "When ingested, it has near perfect intestinal uptake of around 99-100%[31][32] up to acute dosages of 10mg/kg bodyweight, the highest studied in humans.[33] This absorption tends to occur almost completely within 45 minutes of ingestion.[34][32][24]" So, nothing special about getting it from MD, other than taste preference and maybe preference for a lower dose than coffee or tea.
posted by Miko at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2015


Also, the movie 'deliverance' referenced "Hillbilly" as a Michigan farmer.
posted by clavdivs at 7:59 PM on May 22, 2015


Mountain Dew tastes best when served in a pebbly translucent red plastic cup in a dimly lit Pizza Hut.

Wow, that was an trip down a side road off Memory Lane that I had totally forgotten about. I wonder if there are any unreconstructed, old-school Pizza Huts still around somewhere, with the carpeted floors and the red cups... now I have a sudden desire for a Personal Pan Pizza and a few games of Ms. Pac-Man.

Also I remember hearing the thing as a kid about Mountain Dew lowering one's sperm count (alleged to be something to do with the yellow dye? or whatever). Though I was never clear on why someone in 7th grade would regard that as a bad thing, exactly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:49 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I associate it with meth, about half from articles (perhaps incorrect) about meth mouth, and half from just about every tweaker I see downtown having a bottle of Mountain Dew in their hand.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:30 PM on May 22, 2015


This is funny because yesterday I was talking to someone about that in the late 70's and 80's, if you saw someone drinking Mountain Dew, it was a good sign of them being a stoner. My theory was it was because it had the most caffeine. Now with all the coffee and high caffeine drinks, it's no longer a tell.
What brought the subject up was a question I saw on the green about someone older who's doctor suggested she try medical marijuana which was illegal in her state and how to find someone who could get her some. I'm starting to feel like all things lead to Metafilter.
posted by stray thoughts at 2:04 AM on May 23, 2015


That got me curious about other urban legends about Mountain Dew. There are a bunch.
posted by Miko at 5:42 AM on May 23, 2015


Though it is a slur, I understand "hillbilly" to be a largely overlapping Venn diagram with "Appalachian" (as in, the "hills" being referenced are the Appalachian mountains and their foothills). It's interesting me that people today could know both words and not link them.
Sorry, what I meant was that even after I made the connection between the soda's name, the original song, and cartoonish mascot, I had still never encountered the idea that Mountain Dew was actually a regional, class-signifying thing associated with Appalachia. But most of people outside of Maine probably don't make any particular association with Allen's Coffee Brandy either.
posted by usonian at 6:37 AM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ah I see. Or Fox's U-Bet for RI.

It got me thinking about similar foods that are both regionally marked and class-marked. I considered NJ's Taylor Ham/Pork Roll, defensively embraced and enjoyed today by people of all backgrounds, but definitely not seen as a high-class food, and strongly identified with NJ specifically.

A lot of NYC foods now prized by foodies also started out being considered markers of ethnicity and low class: garlic pickles, bagels, whitefish, etc.
posted by Miko at 7:00 AM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Though it is a slur, I understand "hillbilly" to be a largely overlapping Venn diagram with "Appalachian" (as in, the "hills" being referenced are the Appalachian mountains and their foothills). It's interesting me that people today could know both words and not link them.

For what it's worth, Appalachia in general is one of those places in the US that is a recognizable landmark along the entirety of the East Coast, but not somewhere many people actively think about or consider. It's an abstract that's lost within the individual names we assign the various parts of the Appalachian mountain range, be it the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Smokey Mountains or the Catskills. It's the first of the 'Fly Over' country. It doesn't shock or surprise me if some folks simply don't register it when they encounter words they don't usually come across on a daily basis.

My wife is an Ozarker and will occasionally call herself a 'hillbilly.' So I identify the term as both applicable to folks from the Ozarks and Appalachia.

Also, the movie 'deliverance' referenced "Hillbilly" as a Michigan farmer.

Heh, yeah, Deliverance probably shouldn't be considered a reliable reference for anything other than proof that Burt Reynolds was once as a fit as Ryan Reynolds.
posted by Atreides at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, popular culture/ referent. Hillbilly was used to describe farmers, in Michigan. Usually said as "he is a Hill-billy."
We need an OED definition.
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 AM on May 23, 2015


cell divide: "PepsiCo's new Mountain Dew Kickstart flavors target 'cross-cultural milennial males'

Can someone tell me what is meant by cross-cultural in this context?
"

Whites plus Latino, African-American, Asian guys.

Which more or less means that they'll be buying ad space in XXL AND Rolling Stone.
posted by wcfields at 10:43 AM on May 23, 2015




Wife and I spilt a throwback today. I perfer cane sugar. My dad would buy cane sugar in Ann Arbor from the market.

My father lived in Cuba for 2 1/2 yrs. before the revolution. He drank beer in moderation and I found this label in his copy of 'PT-109 '(signed!)

I believe he saved it for the blatant racism based on we're it was stored.
posted by clavdivs at 2:44 PM on May 23, 2015


A lot of NYC foods now prized by foodies also started out being considered markers of ethnicity and low class: garlic pickles, bagels, whitefish, etc.

The foods of my ancestors. For dinner today I had brisket with potato pancakes (with applesauce!) and washed it down with a glass of seltzer. It felt like a spiritual voyage.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:54 PM on May 23, 2015


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