The Hysterical 1940s Slogans Behind Original Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew had a whole long life before it became the neon green gamer juice we know it as today. Before it was associated with gamer culture and staying up all night hopped up on caffeine, Mountain Dew tried out a variety of very different marketing schemes (per Stop & Shop). In the early days, Mountain Dew relied on a decidedly less tech-forward bent. But we'll get to that later.

After it was purchased by Pepsi in the mid-1960s, the Dew tried to change with the times, trying a series of slogans, starting with the nature-oriented "Hello sunshine, hello Mountain Dew" (per Knox News & Reference*). It wasn't until the '90s that Mountain Dew found a marketing campaign that stuck. This time around the company marketed itself to Gen X. A commercial from the early '90s, featured mountain biking, windsurfing, rollerblading, surfing, some kind of bicycle luge, and biking out of a moving plane, It boasted the slogans "Get out of that chair, get into the air," and "Get vertical," showing that Mountain Dew could be the key to an extremely active lifestyle (per Youtube). 

Starting in 1995, Mountain Dew even sponsored extreme sporting event, the X-Games. But long before it courted consumers with its energy-giving powers, Mountain Dew had a very different advertising slant.

The original Dew

Mountain Dew was first created in the 1930s when Georgia brothers Barney and Ally Hartman relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee (per Knox News). Sodas were largely regional at that time and the move meant the Hartman brothers no longer had access to their favorite bourbon mixer, a sparkling lemon-lime soda called Natural Setup. So the brothers, who ran a bottling plant, set about to make their own. When they landed on a drink that tasted like old-timey homemade moonshine (apparently the desired effect), they called the non-alcoholic beverage Mountain Dew. 

For instance, the Appalachian folk song, "Mountain Dew," the chorus includes:  "Oh they call it that ole mountain dew/ And them that refuse it are few/ I'll shut up ma mug if you fill up ma jug/ With some good ole mountain dew" (per Genius & Smithsonian). And no, that isn't about the soda.

In the early days, the Hartman brothers leaned into the hillbilly angle, hard. Not only did they name their beverage after hillbilly slang, the bottles depicted a barefoot hillbilly shooting a shotgun and the young brand turned to country-style slogans like "Ya-hoo!" and "It'll tickle your innards." The brothers even started selling the drink, then clear, in old-timey green glass bottles or even jugs. Ads depicted shoe-less hillfolk drinking out of jugs marked Mountain Dew. Not super surprisingly, the soda didn't really take off until it changed its flavor profile after it was sold.