Review: Mountain Dew Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease)

Good News! As of March 2011, both Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are permanent additions to the Pepsi lineup!

After you read our review of Mountain Dew Throwback below, check out our Pepsi Throwback review

Mountain Dew Throwback has returned… sorta.

Just like its sibling Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback has returned for another “limited time” run, once again running 8 weeks, from December 28-February 22.

Mountain Dew Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)
Mountain Dew Throwback – December 2009 design

However, unlike Pepsi Throwback, the re-release of Mountain Dew Throwback seemingly uses a different formula when compared to the April 2009 Dew release. We should have picked up on the clues from Pepsi when they announced the “Throwback Comeback” via Facebook and Twitter in August.

Let’s compare the actual phrasing, shall we, with italics added for emphasis…

Pepsi Throwback

From Pepsi’s Facebook Page

Thanks for all the Throwback tweets, videos, pics & pleas. We’ve heard you & you convinced us. And… We’ve got great news! Throwback is coming back!! On Dec 28th for 8 weeks. Same formula, but cooler vintage look!

From Pepsi’s Twitter account:

So… We’ve got great news! Throwback is coming back!! On Dec 28th for 8 weeks. With the same formula, but new awesome vintage look!

Mountain Dew Throwback

From Mountain Dew’s Facebook Page:

We’ve got some awesome news for you guys today! Mountain Dew THROWBACK is officially coming back thanks to all your feedback! It will hit stores on December 28 for eight weeks with sweet new packaging. Get ready!

From Mountain Dew’s Twitter account:

we heard u guys loud and clear and now its coming back!!! mountain dew #throwback will hit stores dec 28 for 8 weeks w/ new packaging!

You’ll note that the messages regarding Pepsi Throwback specifically mention “same formula,” while that description is notably absent from the Dew Throwback communications.

Mountain Dew Throwback (April 2009 Version)
Mountain Dew Throwback – April 2009 design

Now that the rereleased version of Mountain Dew Throwback has hit the shelves, we can compare the two Throwbacks (and their high fructose corn syrup stepbrother) via their ingredients:

Mountain Dew Throwback (April 2009 Version)
Carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), caffeine, gum arabic, brominated vegetable oil, Yellow 5

Mountain Dew Throwback (December 2009 Version)
Carbonated water, sugar, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), caffeine, sodium citrate, gum arabic, erythorbic acid (preserves freshness), calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, Yellow 5

HFCS Mountain Dew
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), caffeine, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid (preserves freshness), gum arabic, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, Yellow 5

Simply by looking at the ingredients, you can see there’s a substantial difference in the Throwback versions. Namely, the December 2009 version features orange juice concentrate, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid, and calcium disodium EDTA — all ingredients you won’t find in the April 2009 version. Interestingly, however, they are found in the HFCS version of Dew.

If you take the time to read the 300+ comments on our original Pepsi/Dew Throwback story from February 2009, you’ll note a pattern emerged. There were folks who really liked Dew Throwback, but also a large and passionate crowd that absolutely hated the taste, saying it reminded them of a diet drink.

It would seem that PepsiCo relented and ended up changing the formula for the “new” Dew Throwback to more closely resemble the current Dew taste vs. the old Dew Throwback, which probably had a more historical flavor profile. But that’s all speculation, of course.

Fortunately, we still had a can of April 2009 Mountain Dew Throwback lying around BevReview HQ, so it was chilled along with the December 2009 Throwback. To add a little fun to the mix, we once again got a bottle of HFCS Mountain Dew, and rounded out the tasting with an imported bottle of Mountain Dew from Canada (which uses “fructose/sucrose” as the sweetener and comes caffeine-free by default).

Mountain Dew (Canada)
Mountain Dew from Canada!

I might as well tell you right now that we preferred the overall taste experience found with the April 2009 Mountain Dew Throwback. The reissued version of Dew Throwback just can’t stack up. It feels like a cop-out to the vocal batch of zombies who were brought up to think that high fructose corn syrup Dew is the way it’s supposed to taste… and Pepsi caved in. I don’t blame them, to be honest. It’s not like they’ve had a good 2009. From marketing stupidity to eroding sales, they need all the cash they can get these days! But enough editorializing for now…

We mentioned in our original review of Mountain Dew Throwback that the drink tasted ‘flatter’ than HFCS Dew, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Instead, “you’ll note from the get-go that Throwback is a bit less carbonated/bubbly, along with having a less acidic bite, more along the lines of Coke’s Vault. …I think what is really present here is that you actually have the flavor of Mountain Dew being present during the entire drink experience, rather than having it buried by excessive carbonation, acid, and syrup. Compared to HFCS Mountain Dew, Throwback seems to have a more authentic citrus flavor. …Mountain Dew Throwback is “full bodied”.”

Mountain Dew Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)

I think that authentic citrus flavor and full bodied experience are missing from the new Dew Throwback. For one thing, when you smell the drink, there’s nothing there. Nada. Zilch. Compare this to the scent coming off the old Dew Throwback… which actually had a citrus aroma. This is surprising given that new Dew Throwback contains orange juice concentrate, thus you’d think it would taste better. Well, “better” is a relative term. If you are a fan of the way regular Mountain Dew tastes these days, then you are probably going to really love the December 2009 version of Mountain Dew Throwback. However, if you were a fan of the smooth, citrus flavor found in the April 2009 version, then you are going to be disappointed. This new Throwback is blander and less packed with unique flavor. It’s not horrible, but compared to the distinct taste that we all were able to experience with the original Dew Throwback, it’s a bit frustrating to a soda enthusiast.

Mountain Dew (Canada)
Canadian Mountain Dew… in French!

For kicks we tasted the imported Canadian Mountain Dew as well… and that had a completely different flavor profile compared not only to HFCS Mountain Dew, but also to the two Throwbacks as well. I was hoping we’d get sort of a benchmark to compare the the sugar-sweetened Dews against, much like we already have with Kosher Pepsi and Mexican Pepsi. But in this case, that little experiment didn’t provide much data other than to tell us… yes, it’s different! There’s a sweeter taste, but it tastes more syrupy when compared to the citrus experience found in the April 2009 Throwback. Here’s the ingredient list for those interested:

Mountain Dew (Canada)
Carbonated water, glucose-fructose and/or sugar, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, flavour, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, gum arabic, colour and brominated vegetable oil

Personally, I crack up at the mention of simply “flavour” being an ingredient!

Mountain Dew Throwback Comparison: Prototype, April 2009, & December 2009 Designs
Mountain Dew Throwback Comparison: Prototype, April 2009, & December 2009 Designs

That said, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the substatial change in label design for the rereleased Dew Throwback. Pepsi ditching the ‘box’ logo used throughout the 1970s/80s — that looked VERY similar to Dew that is currently on the shelves. Instead, we jump way back to the mid-1960s with the ‘hillbilly’ logo that was used along with the tagline, “Ya-Hoo Mountain Dew . It’ll tickle your innards.” Like the Pepsi logo reboot, this design is also aligned horizontally instead of vertical and sideways as seen in the April 2009 version.

The strong use of white space greatly sets apart the December 2009 Dew Throwback logo from previous versions, including the prototype. It does a nice job of conveying that, “yes, this is a different product… and it’s old.” Using the hillbilly character along with the “Ya-hooo!” motto also does a nice job of tugging at the nostalgic heartstrings in hopes of selling to a market that might remember such a logo.

Mountain Dew Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)

Like the new Pepsi Throwback logo, this Dew logo also uses the phrase of being “made with real sugar” and “limited time only”. Overall, it’s a vast improvement over the April 2009 rollout design (and substantially different from the leaked prototype designs).

Overall, we’re happy that Mountain Dew Throwback has returned once again. And if you like the current taste of regular Mountain Dew, then you are sure to love this iteration of the limited edition drink. However, if you are pining for the clean, smooth, citrus taste you remember from the first Mountain Dew Throwback back in April, be prepared for something substantially different.

Other Throwback coverage on