The Untold Truth Of Mountain Dew Baja Blast

Mountain Dew has had a long and storied history since its humble beginnings as a mixer for moonshine. But even storied brands get bored sometimes with their existing product lines and have to introduce a new product to keep things new and interesting. Enter Mountain Dew Baja Blast, which was brought onto the scene in 2004 (via QSR).

The soft drink was established as part of an exclusive partnership with Taco Bell, which struck a deal with Mountain Dew's parent company, Pepsi. The two companies have been business partners going as far back as the 1970s, and the exclusive deal resulted in Mountain Dew Baja Blast, which has the same taste as original Mountain Dew but is infused with tropical lime flavor, a combination that was determined to be a good fit for Taco Bell's Tex-Mex offerings. It seems to have worked. In 2014, Baja Blast was the second best-selling beverage at Taco Bell (via PepsiCo) second only to Pepsi, and an astonishing 75 percent of soda drinkers said it was a major factor in their decision to go to Taco Bell (via AdAge). In 2015, PepsiCo reported that Baja Blast brought in over $1 billion in sales for Taco Bell since it was introduced (via The Daily Meal).

The Baja Blast Bungalow

Keeping in line with other neon-shaded Mountain Dew offerings, the drink is a bright teal color and it instantly became a cult classic. Because of its dedicated fan base, in 2014 Mountain Dew decided to capitalize on the drink's popularity and make it available in stores as well on a limited scale. The announcement took the shape of a day-late April Fool's Day prank in which a listing for a "Baja Bungalow" was spotted on Craigslist on April 2nd of that year (via Marketing Dive).

The "bungalow" was said to feature a hydro typhoon surf simulator and shark riding in addition to the slightly more mundane description of having two bathrooms and three bedrooms. If that wasn't enough to tip people off that the listing was tongue in cheek, perhaps the mention of a "187,000,000,000,000,000,000-gallon saltwater fish tank with sharks, maybe crabs and weird things that touch your foot and freak you out" would've clued people in (via Adweek). And of course, what made it even more desirable was that the guest was guaranteed their own personal supply of Baja Blast.

Of course, once the listing had resulted in the social media storm that they'd intended, the company clarified that Baja Blast was truly coming back and there was no need to go to a bungalow to get your hands on some. As part of the retail push, an ad campaign featuring Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other pro sports athletes made the rounds.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast comes and goes

In 2018, Mountain Dew Baja Blast was reintroduced after a two-year hiatus thanks to customer demand (via Media Post). The hashtag #BringBajaBlastBack was widely circulated on social media and a vice president of marketing estimated that some 30,000 tweets sent to the company had requested that the soda be made available in cans and bottles. The Mountain Dew executive went on to say that making Baja Blast widely available was the number one request that the company received from consumers and that the response to the retail launch was unlike anything he'd ever seen. This is quite impressive given the fact that only an estimated 40 percent of Mountain Dew drinkers even knew the variety existed before it was made available in various stores in 2014. 

The company hoped that making the drink available in grocery store settings would help to introduce a broader segment of the population to the drink. And while the soft drink industry as a whole has seen decreases year after year over the course of more than a decade, Baja Blast has gone the opposite direction. In 2013, for example, the drink's volume went up 49 percent compared to the year prior. Soft drink volumes as a whole decreased 3 percent over the same time period.

KFC tries to emulate the success of Baja Blast

While the notion of a soft drink exclusive to a fast food restaurant may initially seem odd, the runaway success of Baja Blast resulted in another similar deal for Mountain Dew, but this time with KFC. Both KFC and Taco Bell are both subsidiaries of the same company, Louisville-based Yum Brands (which owns Pizza Hut as well), and Yum noted how well Baja Blast did and decided to try the same concept with another of its restaurants. 

In June 2019 the restaurant introduced Sweet Lightning (via Biz Journals) — Mountain Dew infused with peach and honey flavors. Just like Baja Blast, this flavor was intended to pair well with the fried chicken offered by the fast-food location. When it was introduced, the company made clear that it was not intended to be a limited time offering, but rather something that would be on the menu for the foreseeable future. Unlike its Taco Bell counterpart which can be found in select retail locations, Sweet Lightning was only made available at KFCs.