Barely a week ago, the Shameless Consumer would have assumed that the worst thing to come out of Mountain Dew this year would be that awful puppymonkeybaby Super Bowl commercial. Yes, I watched the Super Bowl. Not because I like the game but because Peyton Manning was playing and he always seems to know what’s going on at Papa John’s.
At least, that was until I got my hands on the latest Mountain Dew Kickstart beverages. Kickstart, like the forced-meme commercial says, is a mashup of three things: energy drink, juice, and soda. I’ve tried them in the past, and actually enjoyed them, so I was hoping that the brand would improve even more going forward. It has not.
Now the Shameless Consumer loves watermelon drinks, the Arizona watermelon juice cocktail has been a staple of his summertime fridge stock since the Bush administration. The first one, when he was vice president. In fact, I drank so much Arizona watermelon juice that the CEO personally wrote a letter to thank me for my patronage and to request that I seek out a nutritionist. But guess who’s still alive today? Both of us.
The odd thing about Watermelon Kickstart is that while it smells like watermelon, by which I mean the fake watermelon flavor found in Jolly Rancher candy, it doesn’t taste like watermelon. Certain flavors are impossible to recreate artificially, and watermelon is one of them. Rather companies will just use watermelon juice or some kind of chemical that doesn’t taste like watermelon at all but it’s become the staple of the artificial version of the fruit.
It’s like how the film version of Captain Kirk really wasn’t anything like the guy I watched on TV in my forties. It looks kinda like the real thing, but sure doesn’t act or taste like it, and everyone just accepts it as a fitting substitution because Hollywood tells us to.
So immediately upon your first sip the drink hits you with the one-two punch of a jilted lover, cheap fruits and artificial sweetener. Upon looking at the ingredient list, the number two most prominent ingredient is white grape juice concentrate, which also happens to be one of the cheapest juices available. It also contains Acesulfame Potassium, a sweetener known to cause mood problems. I guess that explains why I just ran over my nephew’s bike.
While Mountain Dew Kickstart smells like watermelon Jolly Ranchers, it doesn’t taste like them. The flavor is more along the lines of white grape juice with a bit of coconut water, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Overall it just tastes disappointing, nothing like watermelon, and not in the least bit refreshing.
The sugar content isn’t so bad, 15g for 12 fluid ounces, nor is the 130mg of sodium. If you want to look at the drink from a health point of view, it does contain 100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, 60% Niacin and Vitamin B6, 45% pantothenic acid, and 10% phosphorus. It also contains 200% your daily requirement of wasted money.
At 68mg of caffeine, you’re better off going for a nice cup of coffee. You’ll feel more awake and the taste is a whole lot better. Mountain Dew Kickstart isn’t repulsive, but it fails the most important test of its kind of drink: Tasting like watermelon.
Verdict – 2/5: Has plenty of Vitamin C, but doesn’t taste like watermelon.