I am the beverage consumer that beverage companies love to see walk into the corner store. Several times a week I scour the back row of fridges with a plan to grab my usual carbonated can, but then, without fail, something colorful will catch my eye – a strange new taste from a drink I’ve had before that’s just intriguing enough. “I have to try,” I say aloud to myself at the gas station. Five familiar words I said to myself when I picked up a Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew yesterday. Five words I now regret.
Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew does what it says on the
tin plastic bottle. PepsiCo’s beverage mixers (which I assume invent new products by churning different flavors in a toilet bowl until it’s solid green, red, or blue) injected standard Dew with “a blast of heat and citrus.” You’ll recognize the brand’s Mountain Dew’s chip-shaped corporate cousin, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. An old love for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was my main motivation for giving this Dew a chance – in high school, “flamin’ hots” were a universal currency that could buy anything from a less deflated basketball to a brief admiration. of an older kid.
I eventually had to stop eating hot food when I entered high school. At some point, my body’s tolerance for the super-salty seasoning plummeted. A few cheetos were enough to give me a stomachache that lasted for hours, so I gave up on the hot life and never looked back. Now, going back to Flamin’ Hot with this blood-red, cursed Mountain Dew, I was prepared for a Cheetos-level kick. To my surprise, Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew tastes mostly like regular Dew. At least at first.
I wasn’t detecting the presence of hot flames until I swallowed. “This is a regular Dew”, I thought. So bam! Spices slapped me on the tongue, a clear punishment for doubting its legitimacy. “That’s not a regular Dew,” whispered the devil’s antifreeze. It’s true, but it’s not too ‘Flamin’ Hot’ either.
Is weird. There’s definitely an amount of spice in this drink – you can even smell it amidst Dew’s usual sugary fragrance, but its activation is so delayed that it’s almost a separate experience than drinking the real soda. The kick itself is also muted: much smoother than eating a regular Flamin’ Hot Cheeto.
There’s something missing from the Flamin’ Hot flavor composition here. It’s hot enough that I have to cough up swallows three and four, but I can’t detect the distinct lemon-salt flavor that takes over a Cheeto’s body and makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. It tastes like the time my friend threw pepper in my water glass. It’s spicy, but it doesn’t pucker your lips, which is half the reason to eat something with the words “Flamin’ Hot” on it.
Now, more than an hour later, I can still feel a little pepper in the back of my throat. My tongue is perplexed. Unlike cheetos, this Dew definitely won’t make your mouth burn for 30 minutes. At first my instincts told me that mildness is a blow against Flamin’ Hot Dew, but then again, why? Did I really want a bottle of soda to spoil my stomach for the better part of a workday? Do I want to choose between drinking milk or sitting around with my tongue tortured as a reward for consuming something I bought for $3 plus tax? The whole Flamin’ Hot idea started to unravel in my head, and I remembered why I’d dropped those crispy devils in the first place.
My answer was there on the label all along – this sentient cartoon flame with fingerless gloves is not my friend. He’s excited to hurt me! Thrilled that I bought into my own death! He enjoys burning innocents so much that he’s holding a lit torch, though. be a fireball. Don’t let this little idiot win. Don’t be like me. Don’t drink Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew.
Unless, I don’t know, you’re curious. It’s ok.