We first reviewed Mountain Dew Baja Blast when it was released 10 years ago in 2004. It was unique because the flavor was only available via fountains at Taco Bell. Back then, we weren't really in love with the drink as much as we were with the concept behind the drink.
Enter 2014 and the announcement that Baja Blast would be available as a limited edition flavor in bottles and cans. And sure enough, it started showing up in stores this month, packaged in 20 oz bottles, 24 oz cans, and 12 packs of 12 oz cans.
This release is being promoted as sort of a "10th anniversary celebration" of the flavor, with clear branding associating where it debuted ("A Taco Bell Original"). Much of the style of the flavor branding remains the same on the label, though the original tagline of "A Tropical Lime Storm" has been converted to the more generic "Dew with a Blast of Natural and Artificial Tropical Lime Flavor."
Pepsi is promoting a mobile game download in conjunction with the promotion, with codes under the caps to add enhancements and power-ups.
Other enhancements also seem to be tied to Taco Bell purchases or social media check-ins.
They also have rolled out a commercial to help explain that "this was a drink that used to only be available in a restaurant, but now you can buy it in stores!" This seems to be the brands big push for Summer 2014. The promotional legal details list an end date of October 3, 2014 — your milage may vary regarding drink availability by then.
The 20 oz bottle version utilizes the Mountain Dew "Sidekick" container, with a narrow banded label toward the top of the packaging.
The 24 oz canned version follows the same design style as other Dew 24 oz sizes, again with the marketing messages regarding Taco Bell, "limited time", and the mobile "Baja or Bust" game skirting the rim.
Finally, the 12 oz cans are found in your standard cardboard packaging, with the cans themselves featuring a "swirl" backdrop behind the logos, reminiscent of the actual Baja Blast logo.
Enough about the marketing aspects of this Dew. Does this bottled version stack up to the original?
No matter which version you tried, they all featured the familiar "citrus lime" scent upon opening their containers. Crisp, bubbly, and quite sweet. The light blue-green color is also back in these shelf-ready versions.
Probably the best thing that can be said regarding the non-Taco Bell version of Baja Blast is that there is consistency in the mix. Typically, the fountain version varies a bit in syrup-to-water ratio, while also offering a different potency if ice is added. In this case, given the sealed nature of this iteration of the flavor, you get an expected solid flavor each time. A huge plus! The drink itself delivers the expected "citrus + lime" experience, which continues to be quite sweet, accented by a syrupy finish, and heavily carbonated.
Overall, I applaud the inclusion of Baja Blast as this summer's Dew "limited edition" variation. I'd expect the familiarity with the flavor to be beneficial vs. other odd flavors we've seen over the years. And for those who haven't experienced it via Taco Bell, it's a safe addition to the lineup and differentiates enough from the other flavors to make it worth your while.
Mountain Dew Baja Blast
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavor, citric acid, potassium sorbet (preserves freshness), caffeine, gum arabic, sodium citrate, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), sucrose acetate isobutyrate, Yellow 5, Blue 1
A 20 oz bottle contains 280 calories, 65 mg sodium, and 74 g carbs (74 g sugars). Caffeine content is 4.8 mg/oz, which is slightly higher than original Mountain Dew (4.5 mg/oz.)