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Mountain Dew was simpler in its hillbilly era

June 24, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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How did Mountain Dew lose its way?

I liked it well enough in the days when if was the official state drink of "Hee Haw," and facilitated the bad teeth that the brand represented. Plus, its taste was pretty much okey-dokey.

Diet Mountain Dew wasn't bad either, but it was the first chink in the armor. If you're a branding agent, meshing diet with Appalachia had to be one of the hardest jobs in marketing.

Kids began to pick up on the drink when they learned Mountain Dew had more caffeine than any other fluid out there, including Chris Matthews' bloodstream.

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Unfortunately, the beverage took this as encouragement and applause, and proceeded to go entirely off the map with products such as Mountain Dew Code Red, Mountain Dew Baja Blast and Mountain Dew Squirrel on Crack.

Let's be clear. Mountain Dew in the colors of red, blue or orange should be prohibited by law. The correct color for Mountain Dew is that of a stagnant farm pond overcome with algae blooms, and any other hue is just wrong. If we define ourselves by the zany, synthetically enhanced Technicolor of our recreational beverages, we'll drink Gatorade, thank you very much.

But now it appears the Mountain Dew development team has been drinking too much of its own product. It has come out with soft drinks -- no, I'm sorry, it's not called a soft drink anymore, it's called a "game fuel" -- tied somehow to the video game "World of Warcraft." You can buy bottles of "Horde Red" Mountain Dew, or "Alliance Blue" Mountain Dew.

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the Hoard and the Alliance are two sides locked in a battle to save the universe -- although to my mind, the way this universe is going, its saving is becoming less and less of a good idea.

I visited the World of Warcraft Web site and was rewarded with unimpeachable proof that I am over the age of 40 because I didn't understand a word that it said:

"The Argent Crusade continues to call forth the bold and brave to take up arms against their enemies and overcome the threat of the Lich King. In the upcoming content patch, Call of the Crusade, the Argent Tournament expands into two new points of interest, adding new dailies, new rewards, and new challenges for the heroes of Azeroth."

Suddenly, all those passion-filed games of checkers I played as a kid seem pretty lame. Whew. No one ever named a soft drink after Milton-Bradley. And the only thing I know about Azeroth is they went down hill fast after their "Toys in the Attic" LP.

I'm also old enough to remember the quaint days when we drank something for a really crazy reason: Because we were thirsty. Now, every time you pick up a soft drink, you're making a statement. I can't handle that much responsibility. You drink the wrong thing and you wind up being beheaded by a follower of the Lich King.

But I do have to hand it to Mountain Dew for covering all of its bases. Perhaps reckoning on a backlash from unhip fogeys such as myself, it has come out with, I am not kidding, "Mountain Dew Throwback."

It recalls its hillbilly roots because it has the original label and is sweetened with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It shows how far we've sunk that we greet the return of natural sugar as a health food.

No matter, I'm happy. You can battle among the stars all you want; for the rest of us, we can sip the old standby and let our teeth rot in peace.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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