You can’t stop Mountain Dew. That’s a lesson that needs to be learned by a lot of makers of carbonated beverages. Yet they continue to try with products such as Mello Yello Afterglow.
For years, Coke has tried to come up with a counteroffensive to battle Pepsi‘s strong Dew franchise. The company wanted to replace their failing Mello Yello brand, which had been around for years, but had little effect on the Dew popularity. One of Coke’s more notable failures, Surge, was launched in 1997 but taken off the market in 2002, despite having quite a strong fanbase. (There was even a documentary created to bring the drink back!). One of the alternate formulas for Surge was later used to create Citra (which is now known as Fanta Citrus). Even Cadbury Schweppes‘ Dr.Pepper/Seven Up division has tried to get into the game with dnL.
When Pepsi experimented with launching a spinoff flavor of Mountain Dew (Mountain Dew Code Red, 2001), Coke got a new fire in their belly. Code Red’s success meant that Pepsi was going to launch even more flavor derivatives on the Dew brand. These seem to come out fairly quick, including Mountain Dew Blue Shock (2002, 7-11 Slurpee flavor), Mountain Dew LiveWire (2003, limited/full-time), Mountain Dew Baja Blast (2004, Taco Bell exclusive), and Mountain Dew Pitch Black (2004, limited).
Coke fell back on the only citrus-y brand they currently had working, Mello Yello, to launch a counter offensive. They initially spun off two new flavors of the drink, Mello Yello Cherry and Mello Yello Melon. My wife Amy and I first tried these drinks during a trip through the Smoky Mountains in Summer 2003. Here’s what we wrote at the time on our personal blog:
We decided to open one of two new flavors of Mello Yello that I picked up: Mello Yello Melon and Mello Yello Cherry. They’re only sold in the Southeast at the moment from what I hear.
The Cherry flavor seems to be Coke’s answer to Mountain Dew Code Red, though it has a stronger cherry flavor.
Melon ended up being a nice change of pace as well, having a unique flavor that can probably be described as “Sprite Remix Tropical with more fruity flavor.”
Both were pretty decent flavors that, while refreshing, weren’t really better than Mountain Dew. I did like Melon’s unique flavor, however. Both brands have been discontinued, unfortunately.
A third spinoff drink appeared shortly after the Cherry/Melon experiment: Mello Yello Afterglow. Afterglow, like Cherry/Melon, was also a regional product in the Southeast and was canceled not too long ago. However, during a recent trip Amy and I took to Nashville, TN, we happened upon a few bottles at a gas station in Kentucky. Afterglow was uniquely marketed as “A Natural Flavored Soda”, and looking at the ingredients, it really did contain orange juice.
Being orange in color, one would expect this drink to have an orange flavor. Those expectations were a little off, I found, as there was a strong bitterness to the drink. It had somewhat of a tangerine vibe, or maybe it was peach… I couldn’t really place it. But beyond that, it just didn’t taste very good. When you see Amy make a scrunched up face while sampling a drink, you know it’s not a winner. It wasn’t as bad as say 7Up Plus, but it wasn’t that great either. Compared to the other drink we found on our Nashville trip, Fanta Citrus, this beverage just didn’t stack up.
Message to Coke: Keep trying!