Mountain Dew's Journey From Moonshine to Esports

February 5, 2019

Mountain Dew was originally created in the 1940's as a mixer for whiskey. Today, Mountain Dew is the drink of choice for gamers. So, how exactly did Mountain Dew go from mixer to esports favorite? Cheddar Explains.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Carl Mueller: 1999 is Tony Hawk's pro skater, Downhill Jam.

Carl Mueller: Make your way down the hill,

Carl Mueller: off the kicker, and into the half-pipe.

Carl Mueller: Then, off another kicker and onto

Carl Mueller: the- pause here, Mountain Dew billboard.

Carl Mueller: This was the first time Mountain Dew

Carl Mueller: intentionally spoke to the video game consumer base.

Carl Mueller: Flash forward to today,

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew directly targets gamers,

Carl Mueller: so much so, that the combination

Carl Mueller: has become an Internet meme.

Carl Mueller: It sits atop the Internet food pyramid.

Carl Mueller: But unbeknownst to Game Fuel fans is that

Carl Mueller: the Internet's favorite drink was originally

Carl Mueller: designed to dilute whiskey.

Carl Mueller: So, how exactly did Mountain Dew begin as something so

Carl Mueller: hyper-specific and

Carl Mueller: evolve into something completely different?

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC] In the early 1930s,

Carl Mueller: brothers Barney and Allie Hartman were working

Carl Mueller: at an Orange Crush bottling plant in Augusta, Georgia.

Carl Mueller: At the end of the day, the brothers would

Carl Mueller: indulge in a glass of their favorite beverage,

Carl Mueller: Old Taylor Bourbon mixed with

Carl Mueller: a lemon lime soda called Natural Setup.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC] But in 1932,

Carl Mueller: the Great Depression arrived in Augusta,

Carl Mueller: Georgia and the bottling plant was shut down.

Carl Mueller: The brothers moved to

Carl Mueller: another Orange Crush plant in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Carl Mueller: To their dismay, they couldn't find

Carl Mueller: the whiskey mixing soda anywhere.

Carl Mueller: So, in the Knoxville plant they made their own.

Carl Mueller: By the early 1940s,

Carl Mueller: they perfected their drink.

Carl Mueller: A caffeinated lithiated lemon-lime soda

Carl Mueller: that they named personal setup.

Carl Mueller: But among themselves the brothers

Carl Mueller: called it something very different,

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew, slang for

Carl Mueller: mountain brewed Tennessee moonshine.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC] The label on

Carl Mueller: their first bottle featured

Carl Mueller: a gun toting hillbilly yelling,

Carl Mueller: it will tickle your innards.

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew clearly embraced

Carl Mueller: its prohibition era wild roots.

Carl Mueller: When Pepsi bought Mountain Dew in 1964,

Carl Mueller: executives feared the hillbilly mascot was limiting.

Carl Mueller: So in order to reach a broader audience,

Carl Mueller: they dropped the hillbilly and introduced a new campaign.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC]

Carl Mueller: But as far

Carl Mueller: as consumers were concerned,

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew was just another lemon lime soda.

Carl Mueller: The company experimented with several slogans like,

Carl Mueller: Put a Little Yahoo in Your Life.

Carl Mueller: But none quite caught on like its mid '70s line,

Carl Mueller: Hello Sunshine, Hello Mountain Dew.

Carl Mueller: A direct appeal to young bohemians and it worked.

Carl Mueller: 1979, Mountain Dew sold

Carl Mueller: over 137 million cases

Carl Mueller: and was the fastest growing soft drink in America.

Carl Mueller: By the early '90s, Mountain Dew

Carl Mueller: again losing its popularity.

Carl Mueller: It tried launching brands like sugar-free and

Carl Mueller: Diet Dew for more health conscious consumers.

FEMALE_1: You guys are getting a lot older now.

FEMALE_2: Yeah boy.

FEMALE_1: You're even drinking Diet Mountain Dew?

MALE_1: So what?

Speaker 9: So what?

Speaker 9: It's still got the same great Mountain Dew taste.

Carl Mueller: But the young consumer who popularized

Carl Mueller: the soda didn't seem to care about their diets.

Carl Mueller: They were rebellious and defiant.

Carl Mueller: A generation of slackers and the children of

Carl Mueller: baby boomers who wanted MTV,

Carl Mueller: grunge, hip hop, and skateboarding.

Carl Mueller: In 1995, Mountain Dew sponsored the first X Games.

Carl Mueller: The neon, green, caffeine loaded,

Carl Mueller: sugary soda was the perfect fit.

Carl Mueller: At around the same time,

Carl Mueller: a very different consumer base was

Carl Mueller: growing and for practical reasons.

Carl Mueller: In the mid '90s, Mountain Dew had

Carl Mueller: the most caffeine of any soft drink,

Carl Mueller: 55 milligrams per can.

Carl Mueller: Who needed this much caffeine?

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC] Programmers, developers, and

Carl Mueller: Internet enthusiasts began drinking the Dew

Carl Mueller: to help them maintain focus through coding,

Carl Mueller: programming problems, and yes, video games.

Carl Mueller: But it wasn't until 2005 that

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew exclusively targeted video gamers.

Carl Mueller: This is the Mountain Dew limited edition Xbox.

Carl Mueller: 5,000 of them were given away to

Carl Mueller: loyal Mountain Dew drinkers who collected enough caps.

Carl Mueller: Next Mountain Dew began its Game Fuel promotion.

Carl Mueller: Each new flavor coincided with

Carl Mueller: the release of a new video game.

Carl Mueller: In 2007, it was Halo 3.

Carl Mueller: In 2009, it was a World of Warcraft.

Carl Mueller: In 2011, it was Call of Duty.

Carl Mueller: And in 2012, it was Halo 4.

Carl Mueller: Late night gamers were naturally

Carl Mueller: choosing Mountain Dew for the energy.

Carl Mueller: And although coffee and energy drinks have more caffeine,

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew is marketing itself

Carl Mueller: to be the only fitting option.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC]

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew is everywhere in video game culture,

Carl Mueller: but its strategy is nothing new.

Carl Mueller: Find what young people are into and dive headfirst.

Carl Mueller: In the '70s, it was bohemian subcultures.

Carl Mueller: In the '90s, it was extreme sports.

Carl Mueller: And for the better part of the 21st century,

Carl Mueller: it's been video games.

Carl Mueller: Whether the placement is natural

Carl Mueller: or a little bit more blatant.

Geoff Keighley: You know, you buy Mountain Dew or you buy Doritos,

Geoff Keighley: you actually get a code,

Geoff Keighley: which then you go to the website like

Geoff Keighley: Dew XP or doritosxp.com.

Geoff Keighley: You enter that code and link it to your gamertag

Geoff Keighley: and you actually get experience in the game.

Carl Mueller: Mountain Dew has secured its place in the gaming world.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC]

Carl Mueller: In the coming years,

Carl Mueller: e-sports will become a multi-billion dollar industry

Carl Mueller: and you can expect Mountain Dew to follow.

Carl Mueller: [MUSIC]