I was never a fan of Mountain Dew until they came out with Code Red. It was sugary, cherry-flavored, and didn’t taste like lime Seltzer. Now they have Kickstart: a new energy drink/soda/“flavored sparkling juice beverage from concentrate with other natural flavors.” What is that? Does anyone even know what category that is even in? So it can’t possibly be juice but it’s not an energy drink yet it can’t be soda either? Who decided that was great packaging?

My opinion is that Kickstart is definitely soda with extra energy. I wouldn’t say it’s an energy drink because it doesn’t have all those extra chemicals, just caffeine, and it doesn’t taste like rocket fuel. It didn’t make me feel any more energized and it gave me a headache about an hour later. It does have 19 grams of sugar, 5% juice, and electrolytes (“for taste”…what does that mean?). Let’s just say there’s lots of confusing and strange language on the packaging.


When Googling around, I saw that one of the most common searches was “Mountain Dew Kickstart Caffeine Amount,” and I can see why. There’s no information on the package and from the headache I got after drinking it, it must be a lot. I felt slightly more awake within the first few minutes of it but then it completely wore off about 20 minutes later. I wouldn’t use this as a jolt awake by any means.

I ended up buying the only two flavors at the store, Black Cherry and Fruit Punch; both had ENERGIZING in front of their titles (feel like that’s a bit of false advertising). They were hidden away in two little rows far from the other Mountain Dew products and I had to search really hard to find them. If you decide to pick these up, you’ll most likely be searching for awhile.


With taste, I’d say you’re better off just getting the regular soda. The Fruit Punch flavor tastes a lot like Code Red except not as good and the Black Cherry is watered-down and tastes nothing like black cherry. The sugary-ness of the Fruit Punch ruined any of the good flavoring in there while the Black Cherry could have used a dose of flavor. If you’re going to pick one up, I’d pick up the Fruit Punch and avoid the Black Cherry, but again, I’d probably just skip these altogether and get the real thing.

I think the major problem with Kickstart is that is doesn’t know what it is. If you don’t know who you are, how can you be anything? Sparkling juice? With caffeine? What is that? I think they should try to pick a category and then design a drink for that specific category. Who’s the target market for this product? It’s not energy drink junkies, definitely not health nuts, certainly not hardcore, or softcore soda lovers, it’s just there…on the market. Nobody will buy it for a boost of energy, nobody will buy it for a sugar fix, and nobody will buy it as a soda alternative. It doesn’t really taste like any category and there’s way too much carbonation, I think, to even call it “sparkling.” I’ll be shocked to see these drinks jump off the shelves any time soon.


Serious recommendation: Buy the real thing, don’t cheat yourself; stick to the classic. Regular and diet Mountain Dew, Code Red, Voltage, Live Wire.

I saw on their website that they have Mountain Dew A.M. with a picture of orange juice and Mountain Dew being mixed together (didn’t see this in stores); probably a bad combo that I’m not sure how it made it through taste testing. And Apple Mountain Dew…what…no. Mountain Dew seems to be trying to bank on the fruit beverage trend, but I believe it’s backfiring badly.

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I am in deep-fried love with food and travel. With Italian roots, I have a weakness for bread, marinara, and mozzarella. I’ll try anything once and am constantly searching for intriguing places to visit. When I'm not savoring the last bite or organizing my next trip, I'm indulging my inner bookworm and writing about my adventures. If you turn on college football and give me a local craft beer, you’ll see the happiest Hokie on the West coast.
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