Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fond Recollections of Mountain Dew Liberty Brew

I.E., that time PepsiCo surreptitiously released mock-Purple Drank nationwide under the veil of commercialized patriotism.

By: Jimbo X

By all account it's been a pretty good summer for blueberry-ish, limited-time-only sodas. Of course, you had that one Mysterio-flavored Dr. Pepper variation that was 100 times better than anything in the new Spider-Man movie itself, and I guess you could consider the relaunch of Pepsi Berry to kinda-sorta fit the motif, as well. Of course, the undisputed king of limited-time-only, blue-hued seasonal sodas for summer 2019 HAS to be Mountain Dew Liberty Brew, a newfangled beverage from Pepsi that boasts of containing idiosyncratic flavorings from all 50 states.

Now, you might be wondering, precisely, what those 50 flavors are. Well, Pepsi doesn't feel fit telling the soda-consuming public exactly what's in the soda, and the exterior packaging for the product doesn't give us too many clues, either. But all of that is basically a speck of dirt on the windshield compared to the true significane of the product — not only is it visually a spiritual successor to Pepsi Blue, it's actually a furtive attempt by a major conglomerate to mass market a pseudo-SIZZURP-flavoed cola coast-to-coast. 

Oh, that's right — Liberty Brew is, surreptitiously, a virgin Purple Drank. But we'll get to the specifics on that in just a little bit, dear readers. First, let's examine the ephemeral characteristics of the L-T-O product, why don't we?

If we're just going to base the overall quality of a product based on its presentation alone, Liberty Brew is a rock-solid, 10 out of 10, out-of-the-park homerun. Not only did the soda-engineers at Pepsi find a way to make a chemical compound look even bluer than Windex, the packaging for the product is pretty much a modern pop art magnum opi.

The product artwork is just brimming with all sorts of Burger Punk aesthetics, to the point I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a cringey attempt at sincere boomer patriotism or an oblique mockery of American culture as a whole. You've got the Statue of Liberty riding a motorcycle, buffalo roaming around the Great Plains and, of course, bald eagles galore dotting the landscape like herpes pockmarks on a 30-year veteran crack whore. Really, the only thing they left out was a really, really fat guy in a MAGA hat and a group of minority teens playing the knockout game — otherwise, what's presented here is a almost a comprehensive tapestry of the contemporary American experience.

As you can no doubt see for yourself, the product has an almost mesmerizing, cerulean hue to it. It's not just blue, it's hyper-blue, an almost iridescent blue. Basically, if you could condense the core essence of Sonic the Hedgehog into one liquid, it would almost certainly resemble Liberty Brew. Speaking of which, remind me to stockpile a six-pack for when the live-action movie drops next year — this stuff right here is practically tailor-made for just such an occasion.

Of course, the product immediately evokes recollections of Mountain Dew's earlier patriotic soda, the L-T-O Dew-S.A. offering from 2017. While the overall themes are quite similar, tha product had more of a murky purple vibe to it, with what I recollect as a slightly off grape flavor. This soda, I assure you, is an altogether different beast ... and a much improved one, at least in the eyes of this highly partial observer.

So in terms of nutritional value, this thing is pretty much what you would expect. We've got 240 calories, 75 miligrams of sodium and a pretty hefty 64 grams of carbohydrates, including a quasi-concerning 63 grams of sugar. Of course, if you're buying limited-time-only Mountain Dew products, you probably don't give a fuck about your health and well-being to begin with, so I guess all of that represents a warning none of us were going to heed in the first place.

Which, naturally, brings us back to the whole "50 flavors" gimmick. Well, as the list of ingredients on the back of the bottle demonstrate, the best we're going to shake out of them is a rather abstract "naural and artificial flavor," which from an FDA standpoint, can literally be fucking anything. Adding even more intrigue to the product, Pepsi swears up and down that all 50 flavors are culled from iconic regional tastes from all 50 states, which is almost pro wrestling promoter levels of bullshit. I mean, what the fuck kind of iconic fruity taste can you think of from Alaska, Idaho or New Jersey? If Pepsi really is going with the 50 state flavors hook, I can only assume that Alabama is represented by low strength trucker speed, Florida is represented by tangerine-flavored bath salts and California is represented by — what else? — public policy that LITERALLY makes it legal to give you AIDS.

As I was saying before, aesthetically, Liberty Brew is a five-star masterpiece. I mean, holy shit, that is about the bluest fucking blue I've ever seen in my life, and my instant reaction is to drink all of it like some sort of eternal-life-granting Egyptian elixir. Literally the only way they could've made this thing more desirable is if it glowed in the dark — which, in the presence of a just and loving god, is something we're destined to receive a few Halloweens from now.

Unsurprisingly, the product has a very strong — and exceedingly sugary — blueberry smell. So really, the scent of the product is literally artificial blueberry, like cotton candy flavored Bubble Yum or something. It definitely smells sweeter than most Pepsi products, but as soon as the fluid starts tangoing on your taste buds, you'll INSTANTLY know what the suits at Mountain Dew were really trying to pull with the product.

My first swig of this stuff, I automatically got a decent blueberry/grape combination ... only for it to give way to the unmistakable aftertaste of Robitussin DM. That's when it hit me — "Holy fuckin' goddamn shit, Mountain Dew LITERALLY made a virgin PURPLE DRANK and mass marketed that motherfucker."

Now, assuming you're one of the TIIIA's older readers, you may not know what Purple Drank — alternately known as Sizzurp, or Lean, or Dirty Sprite or Purple Jelly — is. Well, it's basically a combination of fruity flavored liquids (a'la Fanta or AriZona's miscelleanous products) with mother fucking cough syrup, preferrably the really high-powered shit with codeiene in it. It's been a popular party drink in the South for years (to the point it literally inspired its own rap subgenre), and since I went to college with a lot of black people, of course I tried said urban delicacy on several occasions. 

Folks, Liberty Brew tastes JUST LIKE fuckin' Purple Drank, from the initial shocking sweetness to that crisp, esophagus tingling medicinal aftertaste. There's no way it could be a coincidence, either — that whole "muh American flavors" shtick is just a convenient smokescreen to confuse all you older honkies that said product is LITERALLY Mountain Dew: Trayvon Edition.

So yeah, Liberty Brew is obviously an acquired taste, but if you're a fuckin' degenerate like I am who used to get royally fucked up on Vicks 44 Cough and Cold and Mountain Dew Code Red back in the day, then yeah, this product isn't just an absolute must-buy, it's an absolute must-stockpile in case of the goddamn biblical Rapture actually happening. In this, my jaded years as a consumer, it's pretty hard to get too excited about any limited-time-only beverage, but in this case, I can make a major exception. I mean, it's not everyday that a major, multi-billion a year conglomerate subversively unleashes imitation lean on the public, and until Dr. Pepper comes out with a mock-heroin-flavored beverage, I reckon it's going to be a LONG time before we ever see something comparable to Liberty Brew on store shelves.

Objectively, if I had to describe the overt taste of the product, I'd say it's basically a mishmash of blue raspberry and elderberry, but nobody really knows what the fuck elderberries are supposed to taste like, so let's just say it LITERALLY tastes like a cross between a bluberry Slush Puppie and a swig of Triaminic Cold and Cough. Of course, you know right now whether that's something up your alley or something you want to avoid like Jeffrey Epstein on a playground, so your mileage may vary considerably on the overall quality of the beverage.

All in all, though, I'm a fan. I think that Mysterio-flavored Dr. Pepper is arguably a better tasting LTO soda, but the ephemera factor on Liberty Brew is way higher. It's got the look, it's got the taste, it's got the scent and it's just plain got the aesthetics of an increasingly more decadent culture, and for that, I have no problem OFFICIALLY declaring Mountain Dew Liberty Brew to be THE limited-time-only soft drink of Summer 2019. 

And you better goddamn believe I'm keeping a couple of these in the deep freeze, just waiting for that live action Sonic movie. Because let's face it — if there's ANY movie that could possibly benefit from a soda mimicking the gustatory effects of a central nervous system-depressing cocktail, it'd be this motherfucker right here.


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