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Rainbow of Flavor

Originally published July 2, 2014 -

or "How I destroyed my stomach in less than 2 hours"

Mountain Dew. Doritos. These are the towering brands upon which all of gamer culture stands. Many a night has been spent washing down handfuls of orange chips while sipping on the sweet green nectar of a classic Mountain Dew.

But what of the gamer with more discerning tastes? How will she sate her appetite during a long night of leet skills? Join us on a journey across a selection of ‘Dews and ‘Ritos for the gamer with a complex palate.

Mountain Dew® Year introduced: 1948 Coloring agents: Yellow #5 Calories per 20 fl oz bottle: 290

I’m not sure how to describe Mountain Dew’s flavor. Um. It’s kind of like… lemon lime? But with a lot of sugar? This is impossible. Mountain Dew tastes like Mountain Dew. I just can’t.

Jenn: “Ted has asked me to ‘describe plain Mountain Dew,’ which is weird for me to do? It’s my favorite childhood soft drink. It’s strangely flat which gives it a ‘frictionlessness’. I’ve always called it an ‘easy drink’ because you don’t even have to swallow.”

A word from Professor Ian Bogost: “Mountain Dew was once an innocent beverage. The choice of the hopeful outsider. The tawny Mr. Pibb.”

Mountain Dew Code Red® Year introduced: 2001 Coloring agents: Red #40, Yellow #5, Blue #1 Calories per 20 fl oz bottle: 280

“with a rush of cherry flavor”

Okay, so as far as I can tell, Code Red is just original Mountain Dew spiked with the same cherry flavoring used for Cherry Pepsi. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Jenn: “It’s an unsurprising flavor, at this point.”

​Mountain Dew Voltage® Year introduced: 2008 Coloring agents: Blue #1, Red #40 Calories per 20 fl oz bottle: 290

“DEW® Charged With Raspberry Citrus Flavor and Ginseng”

Cracking the seal on the cap of a bottle of Voltage, I was rewarded with the scent of melted blue-raspberry lollipops. Voltage has a bit of tartness to it, but the raspberry flavor doesn’t overwhelm the Mountain Dew base. I think it may actually be a bit sweeter than Mountain Dew, which is something I didn’t think was possible.

Jenn: “It’s nice? It’s a change. I wouldn’t… drink it on purpose? If I bought it on accident, I’d drink it.”

The discerning Dew Drinker will note that the capitalization style of Voltage’s tagline is completely different from Code Red’s. This will remain true for all other bottles in this review. Mountain Dew is too cool for style guides.

​Mountain Dew Live Wire® Year introduced: 2004 Coloring agents: Yellow #5, Red #40 Calories per 20 fl oz bottle: 290


Live Wire certainly *smells* like orange. Or, well, those orange gummy candies my grandmother used to always have.

The sweetness isn’t nearly as overbearing as voltage, and there’s less citrus here than either Voltage or classic Mountain Dew. Actually, there’s not really too much going on here flavor wise. Which I guess is a good thing if you’re just looking for sugar and caffeine.

Jenn: “I was excited for Mountain Dew Live Wire, as it advertises ‘natural & artificial orange flavor’ and I’m a Rockstar Juiced fan, but this doesn’t taste like anything.”

​Mountain Dew White Out® Year introduced: 2010 Coloring agents: None Calories per 20 fl oz bottle: 280

“smooth citrus DEW®”

This was actually kind of refreshing. For a Mountain Dew flavor. Fans of Fresca would be able to substitute Mountain Dew White Out in a pinch.

Be forewarned–if you’re looking for classic Mountain Dew flavor, White Out is Mountain Dew in name only.

Jenn: “This is the best one!” Jenn, addendum: “The reason it’s good is it tastes like you might NOT be killing yourself with it.”

​Nacho Cheese Year introduced: 1972 First Five Ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Cheddar Cheese Calories per oz: 140

While not the ‘original’ flavor, Nacho Cheese is by far the most popular, well known one. Once again, these are hard to describe, because they’re ‘the’ Dorito. It’s a salty corn chip with cheese powder. Use your imagination.

Jenn: “I believe they’re called ‘Nacho Cheesier'” Ted: “No! They brought back ‘Nacho Cheese’! I think there’s less powder.” holds up bag Jenn: Jaw falls open

​Cool Ranch Year introduced: 1986 First Five Ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Tomato Powder Calories per oz: 140

Cool Ranch, the yin to Nacho Cheese’s yang. The powder has a hint of ranch flavoring, but mostly these just taste like corn chips. Which I guess is fair.

Jenn: “I mean, Cool Ranch Doritos, formerly Cooler Ranch Doritos, is one of those things you eat so much in childhood… I can’t be objective about it.”

Sela Davis let us know via twitter that they have the smell of freshly sawed-into skull.

​Spicy Nacho Doritos Year introduced: 1997 First Five Ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Whey Calories per oz: 150

Jenn: I don’t get it. Ted: Me neither.

These taste just like standard Nacho Cheese to me. It took Jenn almost the entire bag till she turned to me and said “oh, they ARE spicy. Though I can’t tell if that’s from the Spicy Nacho, or is just what happens when you eat this many Doritos in a row.”

​Salsa Verde Year introduced: 2010 First Five Ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate Calories per oz: 150

I was surprised to learn that the bag of Salsa Verde Doritos I bought for testing is a discontinued flavor! Don’t worry though, Frito-Lay has us covered, and this bag will still be ‘best by’ till July 29th, 2015. Salsa Verde has a not unpleasant ‘green salsa’ taste to it. It is quickly replaced with a lingering hint of jalepeño flavor. Also burning.

Jenn: “Salsa Verde has the same thing going for it as Mountain Dew White Out: it tastes like there might be a natural ingredient in it somewhere. Not bad.”

Bonus: Mountain Dew "Suicide Soda"

I didn’t think this was actually too bad, but Jenn swore that Voltage’s blue raspberry flavoring overwhelmed the others.



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