One of the latest pieces in soda news is that Buffalo Wild Wings has a new exclusive Mountain Dew flavor, confusingly named Legend.  And while my opinions on B-Dubs, as some people apparently call it, tend to just barely be on the positive side of neutral (mostly fueled by nostalgia, although I don’t think I have anything legitimately bad to say about them), this was more than enough to decide to- when my schedule allowed it- make the 30-minute drive out to the nearest one.  The Legend itself fell a little short of legendary, a mildly-blackberry-y beverage was too sweet to really let the blackberry stand on its own, but it was still worth the experience of tracking down an exclusive, elusive Dew.

Last year, Applebees also had its own exclusive in the form of Mountain Dew Dark Berry Bash, which is either still available or they just can’t be bothered to update their website. And while I can’t quite bring myself to go to Applebees (I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that), my family reportedly went for the first time in over a decade so my sister could try it (along with Cheeto wings they were also doing at the time).

A few weeks ago, I alleged that Dr. Pepper re-releasing a long discontinued flavor was an obvious cash-grab riding the coattails of a TikTok trend.  Around the same time, Coca-cola released the bit-of-a-reach-ingly space-themed Coke Starlight, which is so underwhelming to me I haven’t even mentioned it until now.  Nitro Pepsi is a thing that also exists, apparently.  Why does Mountain Dew seem to have the monopoly on gimmick flavors that people (read: me) actually want to try?

Sure, exclusivity is often enough of a grab in of itself.  Yes, every time I go to KFC, I get the Sweet Lighting, because you can’t get it anywhere else, but I’m not making trips to KFC JUST for the weird, peachy-but-not-really elixir that stains my mouth the color of a manila envelope.  But at the other end of the spectrum, McDonald’s has Tropical Berry Sprite, and yet despite- or maybe because of- all the memes about McDonald’s Sprite hitting differently, there’s something very underwhelming about it. 

I feel like it’s also worth saying that more often than not, the various Mountain Dew flavors end up having nothing to do with the original.  It started off normal enough, with flavors like Code Red, Live Wire and the King of Kings Baja Blast all maintaining some level of citrus that one would come to expect.  But in recent years, flavors like Major Melon and Ginger Snap’d have so little to do with Mountain Dew that renowned Dew-haters like my mother can admit they’re good.  Is it possible the only thing truly tying the brand together is… the vibes?

What other soda has vibes?  Like, sure, for a while Dr. Pepper had a following as the intellectual’s antithesis of Mountain Dew, and people lately have been spamming memes about which brand of root beer is the best, but none of these products make any attempt to lean into these (mis?)conceptions.  Meanwhile, there’s something… endearing? about the fact that Mountain Dew has stuck to its radical 90s aesthetic of being the extreme soda for extreme teens.  From the geometric designs on the original flavor to the ridiculous characachures that adorn its offshoots, everything about it is trying so hard to be cool that it flies right past the “trying too hard” end of the spectrum and circles back around to being cool again.  And this branding is so strong that its absence can tank completely separate brands.  My sister and I frequently joke that Arby’s has been steadily going downhill ever since it got rid of Gamer Fuel- and then eventually all Pepsi products.  Clearly, this decline is directly proportional to their transformation from “Epic Gamer Fast Food Place” to “That Place Next to Wendy’s.”  And 90% of Taco Bell’s brand IS that sweet, sweet, pastel teal nectar of the gods known as Baja Blast..  The thought of- in some depraved parallel dimension- washing down a Cheesy Gordita Crunch with something other than Baja Blast? Untenable. 

Of course, the hardcore Mountain Dew branding has now jumped to the next logically hardcore conclusion: Hard Mountain Dew.  Available in original, Baja Blast, black cherry, and watermelon, and… only available in, like, 3 states.  Well, maybe someday they’ll expand their availability nationwide.  But until then, there’s still plenty of Dew varieties to go around… as long as you’re willing to go all over town to get them.

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