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The Elixir of My Life

Spfft. Crack, crack, crack. Opening up that glorious capsule of deliciously addicting lemon-lime liquid sends shivers down my spine every time. Glug, glug, glug. As the mixture of sugary, caffeinated gold hits my taste buds, the crisp carbonation reaches the back of my throat--immediate satisfaction. Ahhhhhh. Feeling unfulfilled, I reach back down, unscrew the cap and throw back another swig. Before I realize it, the twenty ounce bottle is drained, and I sit there, my entire being yearning for more. My inner logician knowing every sip of that elixir is more like poison than gold, I resist the extreme temptation to reach for another. Before long, the Do the Dew attitude within me fades away, lying dormant until the next time I pick up that green label.

As my desire for more of that heavenly mixture peaks just hours later, I enter my local convenience store. Scanning through the coolers, my feet instinctually carry me to what I’m looking for. The modern day Mountain Dew section in my neighborhood Casey’s looks much different from the original single row of bottles decades ago. With a wide array of colorful flavors and oddly shaped bottles and cans, Mountain Dew is not solely the single lemon-lime drink owned by PepsiCo it once was. According to Marissa Fessenden, author for Smithsonian magazine, Mountain Dew has its carbonated roots in Knoxville, Kentucky, first brewed by brothers Barney and Ally Hartman in the 1930s as a chaser for home-brewed moonshine. Fessenden writes that after PepsiCo bought the Mountain Dew brand in the 1964, the branding of Appalachian hillbillies faded into the marketing we know Mountain Dew as today, or rather Mtn Dew. Glug. I reminisce about this history of hillbillies and moonshine as my gaze snaps back into focus in my local Casey’s, looking at the Throwback Edition, imagining myself experiencing the same feeling those backcountry brewers felt chasing down moonshine nearly a century prior.

After my temporary lapse in awareness, my eyes moves past the Throwback Edition bottles to see what else this vendor of addiction can offer me: Code Red, Live Wire, Voltage, White Out, Kickstart, Ice, Pitch Black. My teeth and stomach lurch just thinking about how all the individual flavors will taste in my mouth and feel as they travel down my throat and into my stomach. I think back to why all these flavors even appealed to me in the first place. I manage to trace my desire for Mtn Dew back to when I was younger, watching TV. Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., NBA star Russell Westbrook, as well as other athletes all drank from those multi-colored bottles. Author for Advertising Age magazine Natalie Zmuda writes that PepsiCo, and specifically Mtn Dew sponsor and cater to those preteens who view these stars as the most influential in their lives, hoping to gain lifelong drinkers of their fluorescent yellow liquid. This genius marketing tool of celebrity testimony sure got me hooked on Mountain Dew even as young as ten years old, over the objections of my parents. Whap! As a man looks at me funnily after closing an adjacent cooler door, I realize how long I’ve been looking at the same two rows of Mtn Dew bottles. I make my decision, one Live Wire, one White Out--my two favorite flavors--and after purchasing my daily fix, get back in my car.

Spfft. Crack, crack, crack. Glug, glug, glug. As my second caffeinated, sugary beverage of the day hits the back of my throat, I feel the glucose molecules sticking to my teeth. Starting my car and moving to drive to my destination, my mind wanders once again. This time, it rests upon just how detrimental that substance I ingest on a daily basis can be. Every time I sip and chug down those fluorescently colored fluids, I feel the tingle in every one of my molars. The decay it can cause inside my mouth is obvious whenever I visit my dentist; regardless of my brushing habits, I often suffer from cavities, likely caused by my drinking habits of the excessively sugary substance. Priscilla Norwood Harris writes in “Undoing the damage of the Dew” from the Appalachian Journal of Law, that the increased consumption of sugar-filled carbonated beverages in the past several decades has given rise to a shocking decline in dental health, especially in children exposed at a young age. Harris cites the usage of sugar substitutes, rather than the use of cane sugar in the original beverage, also has had an effect on consumption. Harris writes, “If you're taking a drink [of Mountain Dew] every 20 minutes, that's like bathing the teeth in it all day. It's just rampant decay.” Even knowing the effects the beverage has on my body full well, I cannot help but to continue drinking from that bottle or can. The thought crosses my mind as I pull back into my driveway after the Mountain Dew run--I am addicted. “People are addicted to Mountain Dew. It's terrible” (Harris). I often fail to resist the temptation Mountain Dew, in all its sugary goodness, presents me. Glug, Glug, Glug. I push these sad thoughts out my brain with another swig from the bottle. As is often the case, Mountain Dew can let me forget whatever thoughts I struggle with.

Spfft. Crack, crack, crack. Glug, glug, glug. Same process, same story, different bottle. The same shivering goes down my spine. The same addictive elixir, only this time with the tint of orange flavor that makes up Mountain Dew Live Wire. It’s an hour after the Mountain Dew run to Casey’s, and in the process of sitting at home, I managed to drain another bottle. I drink, I think, I drink again; the process is continuous. The grip that glorious liquid has on me makes it my elixir of life. I live up to the slogan--I Do the Dew. I know the history of the Dew, I know how I was targeted by the Dew, and I know the effects of the Dew. But I continuously let the Dew do me.

Works Cited

  • Fessenden, Marissa. “Mountain Dew Once Had Ties to Moonshine.” SmithsonianMag, 4 Feb. 2016, Smithsonian Institution, Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.

  • Harris, Priscilla Norwood. "Undoing the damage of the Dew." Appalachian Journal of Law, vol. 9, no. 1, 2009, p. 53+. General OneFile, Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.

  • Zmuda, Natalie. "WHY MTN DEW LET SKATER DUDES TAKE CONTROL OF ITS MARKETING; Soda took its 'Dewmocracy' campaign one step further to find new agency, flavors." Advertising Age, 22 Feb. 2010, p. 30. General OneFile, Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.

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