These days, I very rarely drink any kind of soda, sticking more to coffee, water, and beer, but in days past I had a pretty obsessive relationship with both Pepsi Light and Fresca. I think I actually burned myself out on soda. I don't enjoy it as much now, which is just as well because I don't think it's good for ya. Anyway, probably not very many of you are with me here; the carbonated beverage market shows no signs of slowing down here in good ol' 'Merica, even if New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is trying his best.

Soda was a treat when I was growing up, something that we didn't have in the house unless we were having a party or had company. When I could get my hands on a bottle (yes, a BOTTLE) of Coca-Cola or Fresca or Pepsi-Cola or Orange Crush or Dr. Pepper or even a Diet Rite or a Tab, my day was made. But there was one soda that was particularly HOT when I was a little kid in the '60s, and that was Mountain Dew. It was first made in 1940 in Tennessee, but wasn't available nationwide until the Pepsi folks bought the brand in 1964. I can remember the ad campaign well, sort of linking it in my mind with "The Beverly Hillbillies" TV show. I can't tell you how many times we kids ran around yelling "YAHOO! MOUNTAIN DEW!" for no reason.

Original '60s TV ad for "Mountain Dew"

My tiny tastebuds then honestly couldn't distinguish one cola brand from another, Sprite from 7-UP, or Fresca from Squirt. But Mountain Dew was unique. It was an almost-fluorescent green-yellow color, with a dense, sweet-sour taste. It almost felt like you were scandalously drinking actual moonshine in a way,  which of course was what the term "Mountain Dew" meant originally. I love Grandpa Jones.

Grandpa Jones, "Good Old Mountain Dew" (1961)

So here's where the first question of mine came up: HOLY CRAP, WHY DO I FEEL SO WEIRD AFTER DRINKING MOUNTAIN DEW??? No joke, even as a soda-starved CHILD I eventually self-selected off drinking Mountain Dew because it made me feel jittery and dizzy and wired and upset my stomach, which no other soda ever did. Well, here's WHY: Mountain Dew is loaded with caffeine, 54 mgs as opposed to Coke's 34mgs (and I'll bet Mountain Dew used to have even MORE back inna day). That's a lot of caffeine for a little body. BUT, when you add in Mountain Dew's Yellow Dye #5 (tartrazine), guess what? EXTRA CRAY! A recent scientific study showed that children with and without ADHD who ingested tartrazine showed an increase in ADHD-like symptoms. Yikes! So all the kids I knew who would slam down the Dew cramming for tests...probably didn't do so well, huh?

Many, many years later as an adult I decided to try Mountain Dew again, just for nostalgia's sake. I was very disappointed to find that it just didn't taste the same at all -- it was far more generic-citrus, and I didn't like it. Which brings us to the answer to my second question: WHY DINT IT TASTE SAME? Because in the '90s, the company decided to replace the original recipe's sugar with the very evil HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. I guess I wasn't the only person who thought that was lousy, because eventually they decided to produce "Mountain Dew Throwback," using sugar.

My two long-standing questions answered, my curiosity sated, I will now enjoy a long, cold, refreshing sip of store-brand bottled water.