We live in a world built by capital, so of course Cheetos and Mountain Dew happen to be owned by the same conglomerate: PepsiCo. Both products have been part of the PepsiCo family since the 1960s, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have been a thing since 1990. So it’s slightly surprising that it took so long for someone to mix one with the other and release it as Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew, even just as an obvious ploy for brand-friendly headlines.
Gizmodo and our colleagues at sister site Lifehacker saw the announcement for this novelty product back in August and fell for the trap immediately. PepsiCo was able to throw us a few 450 g cans of supposedly spicy beverage to check out to check out. This review may be the closest any readers come to knowing how Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew tastes, as the product was only available for sale on the Mountain Dew website for an hour on Aug. 31 before the company ran out of stock. This may be a little blessing in disguise for ya.
We drank our cans of the (disturbingly dark orange) soda recently. Here’s what our taste test found: Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew makes good on half of its name. For example, it does taste like Mountain Dew. Unfortunately, it is not Flamin’ Hot, or even hot at all, which is the more important part of the equation.
We expected some burn from this — it’s a novelty product, after all, and this is the age of the Paqui One Chip Challenge and other absurdly spicy gimmick products ranging from ghost pepper jelly beans and hot honey to chilli-flavored ice cream. More generally, consumer palates have grown more heat-tolerant in recent years, meaning things that claim to be hot are now a bit likelier to actually boast some kick.
But on a spicy scale of one to ten, this ranks at somewhere around a… two? Otherwise, it tastes exactly like regular Mountain Dew if you crumbled a Flaming’ Hot Cheeto into it. This was not the scorching assault on my taste buds I was promised. I mean, this is how executives at PepsiCo billed it:
“As a brand, DEW has a rich history of experimenting with new flavours our fans love. We certainly had them in mind when we developed the FLAMIN’ HOT beverage,” says Matt Nielsten, Sr. Director, Marketing. “This is one of our most provocative beverages yet, and we’re excited for DEW Nation to taste the unique blend of spicy and classic sweet citrus flavour of MTN DEW.”
Other than the fact that this is just Mountain Dew with a dash of capsaicin, it tastes fine, I guess. There are notes of citrus, carbonation, and sugar/sweetener. According to the label, a single can has 220 calories, 58 grams of added sugar, 59 grams of carbohydrates, and a surprisingly weak 72 milligrams of caffeine (a good bit less than an 226.80 g cup of coffee, which contains around 95mg). Fans of the OG drink will probably have little to complain about if they could get a can, which they probably can’t without paying at least A$18 on eBay.
However, I do not recommend you attempt to make a cocktail with it, and if you do, I especially do not recommend you idly use 106-proof mezcal (apologies to Oaxaca’s mezcaleria Las Pencas Hablan, which did not deserve to be dragged into this) or pair it with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese. This takes it from an underwhelming-but-acceptable experience straight into tasting like a scented cleaning product, and my stomach predictably felt like a bubble of nausea only barely kept in by a layer of Flamin’ Hot slime. I blame capitalism.