Mountain Dew Was Originally Developed For This Reason

Many sodas have been created by pharmacists, such as Vernor´s Ginger Ale, or Dr. Pepper, as a way to soothe tummy aches and aid the digestive tract. But in the case of Mountain Dew, it was created serendipitously by two brothers, Ally and Barney Hartman. After opening their own bottling plant and failing (with the help of the Great Depression), they packed up their bags and left the state of Georgia for new opportunities in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, according to Tristan Donovan's book Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World

The Hartmans quickly realized that their favorite transparent lemon and lime drink, known as Natural Set-Up, didn't exist and wasn't possible to attain at the base of the Smoky Mountains. The lemon-lime soda was similar to 7 Up, or Sprite, and they used it as a mixer for their Old Taylor Kentucky Bourbon, according to Donovan. So they did something about it: They started experimenting with making their own.

It was created as a mixer for bourbon

They came up with their own version of a lemon-lime soda that could be used as a mixer for hard liquor and cocktails and was similar in taste to their favorite. They called it Mountain Dew — a slang for home-made liquor, or moonshine — as an ode and a joke between the brothers and their friends, according to author Donovan. Mountain Dew debuted in 1946, but it wasn't an immediate hit, nor was it very popular in Knoxville. 

Eight years later, the brothers made the decision to franchise by partnering with Charlie Gordon of Tri-City Beverage as a way to extend their reach, according to Visit Knoxville. But today's version of Mountain Dew doesn't quite compare with the original. The original formula for the mixer didn't include caffeine, and the neon chartreuse color that has become the symbol of Mountain Dew was introduced in 1960. Bill Bridgforth, a Tri-City manager, modified the flavor by adding more of a citrusy component, according to Visit Knoxville.