Retro Review: Mountain Dew Baja Blast

I’ve been a Mountain Dew fan for a long time now. While I’ve partaken of many different pops (or sodas) throughout my life, Mountain Dew is the one I return to the most. It’s clearly better than Mello Yellow or any of the store brand derivatives.

Mountain Dew succeeds not only on taste, but also branding. I love the edginess of the brand; I love the youthfulness of the brand; and I love the variety of products like Code Red, Livewire, White Out, Voltage and many of the other temporary flavors they’ve released over the years.

Recently I remembered that Mountain Dew has another sibling: Baja Blast, available only at Taco Bell. Released in 2004, I’ve basically forgotten about Baja Blast the last decade. I’m not usually a Taco Bell fan, but with the release of all these Doritos Locos tacos, I’ve ended up in the restaurant a few times recently.

So, being the loyal Dew fan I am, I decided to give this product another sample.

Lime-flavored Dew?

Mountain Dew’s normal flavor is tough to classify. Technically, it’s a citrus/orange-ish flavor, though it really doesn’t taste like orange juice. After all these years, the taste I associate with Dew is “lightning.” Now, I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what lightning is supposed to taste like. But the intense yellow coloring of the liquid, in combination with the high sugar, caffeine, and carbonation, have made me associate that drink with “lightning” more than any specific fruit flavor.

The other Dews, like Code Red (cherry) and Livewire (orange) are clearly fruit-based. So what’s Baja Blast’s flavor emphasis?

(You squirrely little reader, you already read the above heading!)

Lime? Yes, the official flavor emphasis is lime. Apparently, the flavor wizards at Big MD thought, “Mexican food tends to use a lot of limes, so a lime-flavored drink would make the perfect pairing!”

I guess the logic is sound, but it doesn’t taste like lime. It tastes like blue.

Baja Blast

Now what do I mean by that? Well, you know the artificial “blue raspberry” flavor typical of any frozen or sugary blue confection? Whether it be Dum Dums, Freezees, or any other blue-colored popsicle, blue raspberry is the default blue flavor, a flavor I despise. Mountain Dew does have a raspberry-flavored version, Voltage. Baja Blast doesn’t taste like that, but it certainly doesn’t taste like lime either.

Not that it’s a bad taste. It’s sweet, to be sure, and maybe sweet is a good pairing with Mexican food. I, myself, can’t eat a lot of spicy food due to my own bowel disease, but I wouldn’t even if I could: I hate spicy food. So my tacos are always mild. The taste itself is okay, but what I think throws me off is the color.

The color has too much blue in it. It’s this weird sort of blue-green color technically: I guess they have to differentiate it from the green-yellow color of regular Dew. I don’t like blue-colored or blue-tinted food in general because it’s not a color naturally found in food (save for a handful of exceptions, like blueberries).

So I bought a Baja Blast recently with my Doritos Locos Ranch tacos, and I finished it. It’s certainly not a bad pop; if they sold it in cases, I’d probably even buy one now and then. It just can’t compete with regular Dew.

After retrying, and mostly liking, the liquid Baja Blast, I thought my next challenge would be the Baja Blast Freeze, also sold at Taco Bell.

An unnatural flavor for an unnatural confection

Baja Blast Freeze

Probably the best thing about the Freeze is that if you purchase it between 2-5 p.m. right now, Happier Hour, you can get a medium for $1.06 with tax (at least in Florida). Can’t beat that.

The Freeze has a nice texture: the ice is finely chopped. You probably don’t normally experience this in a busy restaurant, but if you slurp the Freeze in a silent room, the ice makes a soothing “sliding sand” sound as it passes through your lips.

The bluish tint still bothers me, but Freezes are unnatural food products anyway, so I guess it’s okay. The taste is fine. Plus, because the soda itself is carbonated, the Freeze has a bit of fizz to it, which enhances the overall product.

Ice slushes are great drinks because when the drink first enters your mouth it’s ice, it immediately turns to liquid. Each sip has its own story of transformation.

The drink, itself, also changes as you progress. A third of the way through, the ice begins to melt, and little puddles form on the surface of the slush. The drink then presents you with a question: to mix in the puddles so the drink has the same consistency or not? I tend to mix in.

Slushes, though, always seem to have a disappointing end: this is not Baja Blast’s fault. The liquid soda melts at a different rate than the ice, so near the end, the flavoring is sucked out, leaving dull, mildly colored ice behind. I suppose you could just let the drink melt, thereby avoiding this problem, but who has the patience?

Mountain Dew ranking

I’m not sure if this review is helpful to anybody, so let me try a different approach. If I were to rank the Mountain Dew flavors currently on the market, I’d rank them thus:

  1. Original Mountain Dew/Mountain Dew Throwback
  2. Code Red/White Out
  3. Baja Blast/ Livewire
  4. Voltage

Drink on,
~Dennis