Nay, verily I say unto thee, the Dew is a concoction of many faces and who shall know its power? Insidious it is, it befouleth even the purest of humors. Brethren and Sistern: When the days of the Dew grow nigh, the moon waneth in her glory and the powers of heaven shall be shaken. But he who comes of the Mountain and rideth the pale horse of two heads, with the tail of the dragon he hath spoken, of two tounges and twisted words. Therefore be thou angry and quaff not of the Dew or the Surge: for they that shall call forth his wrath shall be cursed with length of days, with enslavement to the house of the Dew and their offspring also, from generation unto generation. Amen, amen I say unto thee, hitherto thou wert deceived, but the path of righteousness is at hand, and the eternal truths have now been made known to the sons of men.

In Canada only Colas can be caffeinated (see mountain dew (canadian)), so here the Mountain Dew contains no caffeine. Dopey me bought 600 ml (or whatever that is in Imperial measure) one night on a business trip in Pittsburgh just before bedtime and slammed it back. Well, in the United States of America there's a lot of caffeine in that little bottle.

Up here, it looks like reactor coolant, actually.

A prohibition era song about Mt. Dew that we sing in Boy Scouts: (Mountain Dew was a slang term for the illegal hooch sold during prohibition)

My brother Bill runs a still on the hill
Where he turns out a gallon or two (TRY THREE!)
And the buzzards in the sky get so drunk they can not fly
Just from sniffing that good old mountain dew.

They call it that good old mountan dew, (dew dew)
And them that refuse it are few. (few, few)
I'll hush up my mug if you'll fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew.

My aunt Lucille had an automobile,
It ran on a gallon or two.
It didn't need no gas and it didn't need no oil,
It just ran on that good old mountain dew.

Repeat chorus

My uncle Mort, he is sawed off and short,
He measure 'bout four foot two, (TRY THREE!)
But he thinks he's a giant when you give him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew.

Repeat chorus

Old Auntie June had a brand new perfume,
It had such a wonderful 'pew' (LIKE PEE!)
But to her surprise, when she had it analyzed,
It was nothing but that good old mountain dew

Repeat chorus

I know a guy named Pete, his hair ain't so neat,
Though he fixes it with syrup and glue,
But it stays right in place when he uses just a trace
Of that good old mountain dew.

Repeat chorus

The preacher-he walked by, with a big tear in his eye
Said that his wife had the flu
And hadn't I ought just to give him a quart
Of that good old mountain dew

Repeat chorus

My uncle Klaus had a real mean old mouse
When they asked how it happened,
He said it was a lappin'
That good old mountain dew

Repeat chorus

There's an old hollow tree, just a little way from me
Where you lay down a dollar or two (TRY THREE!)
If you hush up your mug, then they'll give you a jug
Of that good old mountain dew

Repeat chorus

You take a little trash and you mix it up with ash,
And you throw in the sole of a shoe,
Then you stir it awhile with an old rusty file,
And they call it that good old mountain dew.

Repeat chorus

During the last war, we couldn't get no more,
We didn't have no sugar for the dew
With a few old potaters and a few ripe tomaters,
We turned out some stuff, I'm tellin' you

Repeat chorus

Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, he told me how he felt
The day the old dry law went through:
If your likker's too red, it will swell up your head
Better stick to that good old mountain dew

Here's the part that might offend you:
(too be sung when there are no Scoutmasters around)

My uncle Lester's a child molester
Had a year in prison, or two (TRY THREE!)
If you give him a chance he'll go right down your pants
For a taste of that good ol' mountain dew.

The following is a listing and short explanation of the ingredients listed on the side of a can of Mountain Dew. This, of course, includes only the ingredients that PepsiCo wishes to publicly reveal and does not delve into what, exactly might be in such things as "natural flavors".

Carbonated Water: Not much to explain. Water with carbon dioxide dissolved in it. Gives you that nice bubbly/tickly feeling you want in a soda.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: A fancy, very sweet sugar. How sweet? 75% sweeter (on the "sweetness scale"?) than sucrose which, for you non-chemists out there, is table sugar. HFCS is derived from hydrolized corn starch, and glucose in the resulting corn syrup is modified (using enzymes) into fructose. HFCS officially contains 82% "solids", 43% dextrose, 31% disaccharides, 14% fructose and 12% "other". This ingredient is followed by "and/or Sugar" by which I assume they are referring to sucrose.

Concentrated Orange Juice and Other Natural Flavors: Concentrated orange juice is exactly what it sounds like, though I don't know exactly how "concentrated" it is. Probably more than the orange juice concentrate you can buy at your local grocery, though.
Other Natural Flavors can be bascially anything. But don't be thinking that means they squeezed a bunch of lemons or zested some limes. "Natural flavors" are simply the flavor/scent chemicals which chemists have been able to isolate from various real foods. It doesn't matter if they have been thereafter sythesized in a lab or extracted directly from foods...either way, they're "natural flavors".

Citric Acid: As with any acid, the concentration is important. I have no idea how concentrated the citric acid in Mountain Dew is, but it's probably safe to say that it's relatively dilute. The Materials Safety Data Sheet for citric acid provides this relevant warning:
Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Extremely large oral dosages may produce gastrointestinal disturbances. Calcium deficiency in blood may result in severe cases of ingestion. Also, (c)hronic or heavy acute ingestion may cause tooth enamel erosion. Yet more reasons to not drink large amounts of Mountain Dew, I guess.
Citric acid has the formula H3C6H5O7.H2O and a molecular weight of 210.14. Its solubility is ca. 60 g/100 ml @ 20C (Anhydrous), its density is 1.542 and its pH is 2.2 (0.1 N sol). It does corrode aluminum. Its oral LD50 is 3g/kg.

Sodium Benzoate: There is a parenthetical on the can following this ingredient which explains that it "preserves freshness". Benzoic acid, which is the result of dissolving sodium benzoate in acidic conditions, is an antimicrobial agent. This means that sodium benzoate prevents microbes from drinking all your Mountain Dew before you get a chance to. Your liver uses glycine to convert benzoic acid into hippuric acid, which then passes into the urine.
Benzoic acid is more toxic to cats (LD50 = 450mg/kg) than in rodents (LD50 = >1940mg/kg). So Mountain Dew is safer for your rat than your cat. Take note of this.

Caffeine: Ah, caffeine. I think most people know really everything they need to know about caffeine, so I'll just add that its chemical formula is C8H10N4O2, and it has these alternate, less sexy names: 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and 1,3,7-trimethyl-2,6-dioxopurine. I doubt anyone will be calling themselves a 1,3,7-trimethyl-2,6-dioxopurine addict anytime soon.
A 12 oz. can of Mountain Dew contains 54 milligrams of caffeine, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration allows a maximum of 72 mg. of caffeine per 12 oz. serving (6mg/oz) (according to the Erowid vaults).

Sodium Citrate: Chemical formula = HOC(COONa)(CH2COONa)2.2H2O. I've been unable to discover exactly what it's use is as a food additive, but it has a use in chemistry as a buffer. So it's possibly preventing your Mountain Dew from reacting/decomposing itself into some other, less marketable soft drink. Sodium citrate has another use as an anti-coagulant employed during blood plasma transfusions and/or collection.

Gum Arabic: An emulsifier. For those of you unfamiliar with emulsions (mayonnaise is another food emulsion), an emulsifier essentially holds your food product together so it maintains an appetizing texture, flavor and appearance.
Gum Arabic is also known as acacia gum, and it is collected from Acacia Senegal trees. So yes, folks, it's natural. A wholesome, natural emulsifying agent direct from Mother Earth to your can of Mountain Dew. You cannot blow bubbles with gum arabic.

Erythorbic Acid: Formula = C6H8O6. Erythorbic acid is an antioxidant. There're so many goddamn chemicals floating around in your Mountain Dew can, that you gotta keep 'em from oxidizing the hell out of each other (and the aluminum can).

Calcium Disodium EDTA: This is officially known as a "sequestering agent", and its role is to "preserve flavor". EDTA stands for Ethylenediaminetetraacetate. Say that ten times fast, and you'll understand why they just call it EDTA.
Again, it's a chemical which basically prevents the other chemicals from reacting and changing the flavor of your Mountain Dew.

Brominated Vegetable Oil: Mmm. Oily soda. The best description I could find of this is that it's a bromide ester of vegetable oil. Think Wesson plus bromine. What it does is keep your soda fizzy and flavorful, 'cause it's less polar than water. Or so I've read.

Yellow 5: The infamous Yellow Dye #5. FD&C (food dye and coloring) #5. An artificial coloring that provides you with the iconic Mountain Dew color. Yellow 5 is derived from coal tar, so in a weird way it's "natural". It's technically known as tartrazine, and there is suspicion that it can exacerbate asthma, in addition to being carcinogenic (thyroid tumors) and mutagenic. And I'm sure we're all aware of its possible role in making male Dew drinkers sterile. Food dyes have also been associated (in high doses) with learning disabilities. Coal tar is not healthy.

So. That's what's officially in Mountain Dew. Drink up, go snowboarding, bungee jumping, or do some other XTreme activity. Alternatively, quaff a can so you can stay up writing that paper. It's legal speed, folks. Yum.

It has been pointed out to me that Canadian Mountain Dew contains no caffeine. I say "fuck that shit". Down here in the US of A we're hardcore about our Mountain Dew.

Something that many people are unaware of is that Mountain Dew is orange juice based. This bit of info is especially useful when mixing alcoholic drinks, as many recipes that call for orange juice can be made with Mountain Dew instead. New variations on old favorites!

Vodka + Orange Juice = Screwdriver
Vodka + Mountain Dew = Dewdriver

You'd be surprised at how good this sort of thing can taste. I used to hate Fuzzy Navels, for example.

Also, Mountain Dew contains a great deal of caffiene, which (like alcohol) is a diuretic. I have heard (from sources of limited repute) that dehydration somehow enhances alcohol's intoxicating effect. If so, well, hey then, even better.

The caffeine-loaded monstrosity that is Mountain Dew was conceived by one William H. Jones. In 1925, he worked for the National Fruit Flavor Company, but soon he became an investor and stockholder in Tip Corporation of America, started by Clay P. Church, a friend of his. As manager, Jones worked on a product to compete with the popular Grapette soft drink, but he wasn't very successful. Church filed for bankruptcy, but Jones continued testing new flavors. He asked for investments from friends, all of whom worked for Pepsi, and received the cash and a defunct trademark name - Mountain Dew.

Of course, none of these investors were expecting to get their money back - they were just helping a friend out. Originally, Mountain Dew was similar in taste to 7-Up (lemon-lime) - it was intended as a mixer for bar drinks (thus the name). Jones eventually sold the drink to Tip Corporation. He then began work on a new drink. Realizing that Pepsi had no lemon-lime flavored soda, Jones created the new Mountain Dew, for Tip Corporation (with no fear of competition from Pepsi).

Well, as his luck would have it, Pepsi introduced their own competing product, Teem. Jones's investors had to back out due to corporate policies. He set up a long-term payment plan to pay off his debts and got to work.

Jones finally came upon a formula with the lemon-lime flavor as a base, but with enough orange juice for it NOT to be a lemon-lime drink. This would allow Pepsi bottlers to manufacture the drink. Jones also reduced the carbonation and added more sugar and caffeine. Finally, Jones convinced two North Carolina bottlers, Herman and Charles Minges, to sell the product. They insisted it be sold under the old Mountain Dew name, primarily because they had a bunch of old unused Mountain Dew bottles lying around. Mountain Dew, as we know it today, was released in April of 1961.

Within three short years, Tip was supplying the concentrate to more than 40 bottlers. On September 3, 1964, Pepsi bought out Tip. Mountain Dew became Pepsi's second-most popular drink (and it still is today).

Note: The "news" that Mountain Dew results in a low sperm count is an urban legend. It isn't true, but if you want to try it out by drinking a 6-pack a day for a few years, let me know and I'll write down the results.

Note 2: Punk rockers MxPx did the Mountain Dew song seen in commercials. I know a lot of people were wondering who those guys were, so there you go.

In the UK Mountain Dew was a complete unknown, until 1995, when Pepsi decided to find out if the British stomach could cope with it. Unfortunately, it was as great a success as Wired UK, and since 1998 it has no longer been offered in large stores (petrol stations and smaller shops carried it for a while longer, but no more). The television adverts played on the fact that it was yellow and used the slogan 'Wild colour, smooth taste' - they would have been better off showing footage of student hackers coding late into the night (cases were given out to local student unions), or ravers wired to the gills on the stuff.

Its demise is a shame as, although it was basically lemonade with lots of sugar and yellow, it seemed a lot more palatable than 7-Up, and the two-litre bottles were useful as substitutes for a healthy diet. The label was very different to the American variety, with the words 'Mountain' (white) and 'Dew' (yellow) at a 45 degree angle against a green background with a red slash underlining them. I have no idea if the British variety tasted the same as the original; judging by the descriptions above, it's not the taste that mattered, but the caffeine.

The folks at have come up with a handy Dew Death Calculator to let you know how many 12 oz. cans of The Green Death you'd have to chug to overdose on caffeine.

To save you the effort, a table:
  • 100 pounds = 124 cans
  • 150 pounds = 149 cans
  • 175 pounds = 215 cans
  • 200 pounds = 248 cans
The lethal amount is known as the LD50, the amount it would take for 50 percent of the subjects in the sample to keel over dead. In other words, you give a hundred 200-pound people all the Mountain Dew they want, and 50 of them will die after chugging 248 cans. Thus, the LD50 (short for lethal dose).

Actually, the above table is a big fat pack of lies. If you could even drink that much liquid, the water would burst your organs and the sugar would put you in a Sunny Von Bulow-like state long before the caffeine poisoned you. Salud!

Mountain dew is another term for poitín, an old Irish drink described for centuries as "Irish moonshine whiskey." It is the focus of the song "Good Ol' Mountain Dew," written by Bascom Lamar Lunsford (18821973), after which the soft drink was named:

There's a big hollow tree
Down the road here from me
Where you lay down a dollar or two.
Then you go around the bend,
When you come back again
There's a jugful of mountain dew.

Oh, they call it that old mountain dew
And them that refuse it are few.
Oh, I'll shut up my mug
If you'll fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew.

Well, there's my old Aunt June
Bought some brand new perfume
It had such a sweet smellin' phew.
But to her surprise, when she had it analyzed
It was nothing but good old mountain dew.

And there's Uncle Mort
He's sawed off and short.
He's just five feet and one inch or two.
But he thinks he's a giant
When he gets him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew.

Now, there's Uncle Bill
Got a still on the hill
Where he runs off a gallon or two.
And the buzzards in the sky
Get so dizzy they can't fly
Just from smelling that mountain dew.

(Bascom Lamar Lunsford & Scott Wiseman)

There are many variations on the lyrics (anotherone's Mountain Drew writeup mentions more than a few). The song was said to be written after one of Lunsford's cases (he was a lawyer among many other things) in which he defended a moonshiner — he won the case by having the Judge taste the defendant's brew, to which the Judge ruled that anyone capable of brewing such a fine "dew" should not be in jail. The rights to the song were sold in 1937 to Scott Wiseman for $25 to buy a bus ticket. Wiseman revised the lyrics and it is now called one of the most famous folk songs ever.

I first heard of "Mountain Dew" as an alcoholic drink in another Irish song called "The Rare Ould Mountain Dew":

Let grasses and waters flow
In a free and easy way,
But give me enough of the rare old stuff
That's made near Galway Bay,
Come gangers all from Donegal,
Sligo and Leitrim too,
Oh, we'll give the slip and we'll take a sip
Of the rare old Mountain Dew

Hi the dithery al the dal, dal the dal the dithery al, al the dal, dal dithery al dee
Hi the dithery al the dal, dal the dal the dithery al, dal the dal, dal dithery al dee

There's a neat little still at the foot of the hill,
Where the smoke curls up to the sky,
By a whiff of the smell you can plainly tell
That there's poit´n, boys, close by.
For it fills the air with a perfume rare,
And betwixt both me and you,
As home we roll, we can drink a bowl,
Or a bucketful of Mountain Dew

Now learned men as use the pen,
Have writ the praises high
Of the rare poitín from Ireland green,
Distilled from wheat and rye.
Away with yer pills, it'll cure all ills,
Be ye Pagan, Christian or Jew,
So take off your coat and grease your throat
With a bucketful of Mountain Dew.

(From the Dubliner's Songbook 1974)

9 July 2003: Small edit thanks to CloudStrife.

I am not a lawyer. "The Rare Ould Mountain Dew" is in the public domain. I'm looking into my use of "Good Ol' Mountain Dew" and how it relates to fair use.

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