Why Mountain Dew Probably Wouldn't Exist Without The Great Depression

The bold, sweet lemon-lime taste of Mountain Dew is unmistakable. From its citrus flavor to its neon green hue, the drink is instantly recognizable, which is exactly how its fans like it. But when it was first invented in 1940 in eastern Tennessee, it didn't have the same signature color, or the public appeal, that it enjoys now. On the contrary, the lemon-lime drink was concocted by two entrepreneurial brothers, Barney and Ally Hartman, who developed and privately bottled the beverage for use as a mixer with whiskey, according to Thrillist

The brothers soon found their new concoction had a taste remarkably similar to moonshine, so they decided to give it the playful name "Mountain Dew," a term that was old-fashioned slang for moonshine itself. But, before the original Mountain Dew recipe ever even got off the ground, the Hartman brothers had tried their hand working with a different kind of fruity soda — one without such strong ties to alcohol.

The Hartman brothers' original soda business went bankrupt during the Great Depression

In 1926, Barney and Ally both worked at a company in Augusta, Georgia, which bottled the then-popular orange soda Orange Crush, according to Mental Floss. However, by 1932, the Great Depression had hit the country, causing the business to go bankrupt, thereby forcing Barney and Ally out of their jobs. In the late 1930s, the brothers decided to move to Knoxville, Tennessee in search of better business opportunities. There, they came up with the original Mountain Dew recipe as a substitute for their favorite mixer, Natural Set Up, which they could not find in their new home of eastern Tennessee.

The brothers finally decided to take their invention public in 1946, but the beverage was not terribly popular with the masses — not until the 1960s, anyway, when The Tip Corporation bought Mountain Dew from the Hartman brothers, revamped the recipe, and began bottling and selling the now-iconic soda in distinctive green bottles, according to It's A Southern Thing. The drink's popularity soared, and the rest, as they say, is history. Mountain Dew is now Pepsi Co.'s second most popular soft drink, raking in about $7 billion in sales annually, according to Sure Dividend.