Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew: How Did We Get Here?
You would think a journalist of my caliber, who has broken exactly one story in my entire time with DreadXP, wouldn’t have to write about Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. Well, you see, DreadXP is not making me do this. In fact, I’m sure Managing Editor Samuel Guglielmo does not care what I write about this week. We have both tried the Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew and came away alive and unimpressed. So why do I have to write about it? Well, Mountain Dew has become inexorably linked to the gaming community. When people make jokes about gamers it’s always: “Haha, nerds and Mountain Dew and Cheetos.”. Doritos also gets thrown in there in place of Cheetos. Not sure why. Maybe it’s a regional thing. So back to the task at hand: Writing about Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. I have to do this because I write for a gaming website. Any time Mountain Dew does something weird, we’re required to drag out our Cheeto-dusted keyboards and talk about it. Why?
Why is Mountain Dew associated with gaming so strongly? I have a theory. In 2007, to promote the release of Halo 3, Mountain Dew teamed up with Microsoft to release Mountain Dew Game Fuel (not related to gfuel or their current game fuel line). As I recall, I was but a wee 17 year old at the time, and I had always had a strong love for novelty drinks. No idea why. Mountain Dew Game Fuel tasted like gummy worms, and was the perfect pairing with Halo. From there, other promotions would kick off, such as World of Warcraft Game Fuel, and finally the end boss of soda promotional tie-ins: Call of Duty. It may have started with Halo 3, but Mountain Dew is now permanently attached to gaming at the hip because of Call of Duty.
In 2011, Mountain Dew announced a first-of-it’s-kind promotion: Dew Double XP. By buying specially marked packages of Mountain Dew, you would get a code to redeem for double xp in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. If there’s one thing CoD gamers love more than dubious behavior in lobbies, it’s double xp. It was genius. You didn’t even have to enjoy Mountain Dew to get a benefit from purchasing it. Halo 3, and then later Call of Duty, is the reason why Mountain Dew is linked with gaming. You heard it here, folks. Now, I think I was going to talk about Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. So now that we’ve established Mountain Dew’s haunting association with gamers, we can talk about Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. What follows is just a theory of mine, but I think you’ll see that it makes an odd amount of sense.
Most soda companies have their tried and true main seller: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, and they stick with that. There are a few variations: Vanilla, cherry, cherry vanilla. Outside of that, most soda companies aren’t looking to market or even produce strange flavors that might not sell. Mountain Dew can get away with it, because of double xp. That’s right; double xp still happens in the year of our lord 2022. With their tight ties to gaming, double xp promotions, and -strangely enough- merch sales, they can afford to be weird. Just last year, Mountain Dew released 6+ new flavors. Dr. Pepper rolls out an entire ad campaign for berries and cream flavored Dr. Pepper. They build an entire marketing force just to tell people about their new Dr. Pepper. Mountain Dew just says, “fuck it”, and drops new flavors on a whim.
Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew though…That one was a bit planned. It actually released in super limited quantities last year, on the Mountain Dew website. It sold out in under an hour. So imagine my surprise when I saw a 12 pack sitting on the local grocery store shelves. I looked into it a bit (after I had bought the twelve pack, natch) and Mountain Dew Flamin’ Hot was actually being marketed. They were taking over Hell, Michigan (a real place) and making Mountain Dew Flamin’ Hot the official drink of hell. They’d hired chef turned rapper turned chef again Action Bronson to cook at the event. It was a thing. So with this big push behind Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew, how could you not try it? It has the allure of something you know is probably gross, but it’s intriguing enough that you just have to experience it.
It also helps that when you Google “Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew”, you get a slew of pieces from reputable journalists with titles like, “Mountain Dew Flamin’ Hot is Fantastic”, “Mountain Dew Has Gone Too Far”, “Mountain Dew: What Hath God Wrought?”, “I Didn’t Feel Feelings Until I Tried Mountain Dew Flamin’ Hot”, and the like. So with this many eyes on this strange soda, and the association between gaming and Mountain Dew that I talked about above: How could I not try it? I know that I’m playing into the hands of Big Mountain Dew by doing this. I’m perpetuating the stereotype of the Dew-obsessed gaming journalist slapping their knee and saying, “hoo boy, those crazies at Mountain Dew will do anything!”. At the end of the day though, I bought the Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. I’m definitely not saying I’m better than those other journalists. I am those journalists.
But how is the Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew? Well I think I’m ready to tell you. It is a lime-forward soda that burns your throat when it goes down. It’s not a bad burn or anything. It’s kind of like that old energy drink Cocaine, if anyone remembers that. If you pour it into a cup, the carbonation popping in your nose will burn. It’s not great, not terrible. It’s spicy Mountain Dew. I wouldn’t buy it again. The 12 pack I bought still has 7 or so cans left in it. I’ve given a can to my brother, because Mountain Dew has zeroes in on a fundamental truth: When you taste something weird, you want other people to taste it.