It was supposed to be a taste test. A can of the new Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew would be delivered to my house. I would unpack it, chill it in the fridge and give it a try. But something went wrong, and it ended up up my nose.
I received the can, which had been cleverly wedged into a tiny flammable-warning metal barrel for shipping. I couldn’t get the can out of its pocket, so I stuck the handle of a spoon against the side to lever it free. The can broke open. Warm, fresh-off-the-FedEx-truck, aerosolized flamin’ hot soda exploded toward my face.
If you’ve ever breathed in cayenne pepper, you’ll have an idea of what I experienced when the Yellowstone geyser of bright-red beverage entered my nostrils. I coughed. It felt like I’d swallowed gunpowder residue. I may have seen visions of Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah tap-dancing across my kitchen counters.
Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew is a marketing masterpiece. It combines the citrusy notes of Mountain Dew soda with the hot-pepper flair of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Both brands are owned by PepsiCo, so this flavor marriage was perhaps inevitable.
Once my nose and throat calmed down, I went in for a more traditional taste test. When I asked a marketing representative how the flavor would be described, she told me “swicy.” Sweet and spicy. Accurate. I’m not a big fan of the bright-red Cheetos snack food, but I could go to town on the soda.
As a survivor of one of the world’s hottest hot sauces, I would rate the heat level at relatively mild. There’s a distinctive peppery up-draft in the back of your throat and into your sinuses, even when you consume it the proper way through your mouth. The citrus-and-spice combo is more melodious than with the infamous French’s Mustard Beer.
Do you like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Do you like to do the Dew? If it’s a yes to both of those, you’ll be in heaven with this carbonated consolidation of junk foods.
Flamin’ Hot MTN DEW (that’s the proper brand spelling these days) will be available on Aug. 31 through the Dew Store online, though you’ll have to run your ZIP code to see if the shop will ship to your location. It costs $12 per six-pack.
It’s now been over an hour since I sucked tiny airborne particles of Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew into my schnoz. I can still feel its presence, a murmur of zest and sugar lingering in my upper respiratory tract. A conspiracy of citrus and spice. I hear a voice echoing across the distance of my soul: “swiiiiiiicy.”