Flavor: Diet Mountain Dew (DMD) has an extremely sweet first flavor, but it rings a little hollow, like you didn't quite earn it. It's sort of like losing a game of coed softball, but then being rewarded the victory on a technicality because the other team had too many girls. A thicker soda like Mello Yello gives you the sense you've really worked for it. This is probably because DMD has no calories. DMD achieves this by using aspartame instead of sugar. Aspartame has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats; it has also been shown to cause yumminess in my mouth. [Update: I am not aware of any actual evidence that aspartame causes cancer. In fact, there are a huge number of studies showing otherwise, and that aspartame is completely healthy as an artificial sweetener. But since that undermines the premise of the joke, I left it in.]
Purity: DMD loses some points by having concentrated orange juice as the second ingredient behind carbonated water. If I wanted orange juice, I'd drink orange juice. I want my sodas to be chock full of "partially hydrogenated" things and "benzoates" and other complicated compounds that sound like unholy laboratory concoctions. DMD does have a low level of "brominated vegetable oil," allowing it to earn some points back. I'm not sure what "brominated" means, but if I had to guess I would say it means something close to "made awesome."
Other: By having no calories and no sugar, DMD benefits in two ways. First, the risk to your teeth is decreased, because they are not being attacked by both sugar and acids (I assume there is still a full-scale assault by acids). Second, the calorie free allows you to drink it in massive quantities without getting fat, although you will have to get up from your desk every 8 minutes to pee. Also, if you are a rat you will get cancer.
Conclusion: In conclusion, I give Diet Mountain Dew two hollow thumbs up. DMD is unfortunately not available in the Constitutional Cokeocracy that is our campus, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it also makes the head grow painful from caffeine withdrawal.
[Update: Thanks to the help of some of the U's top scientists, I have corrected the chemistry errors in this post.]
On to the review. On the whole, I give it two sticky thumbs up. Here's why:
Flavor: Mello Yellow is perhaps the most citrusy of the various citrus flavored sodas. The syrup may be a little heavy for some folks, and if a drop of this stuff is allowed to dry onto a surface, it quickly becomes the most sticky surface on the planet (actually, it's in a tie with all the other Mello Yellow spills).
Effervescence: This is one of the most bubbly sodas in its milieu. Drinking immediately after opening may cause a shock, as it doesn't get halfway down your throat before you feel the need to burp.
Extremity: Highly caffeinated citrus drinks seem to lend themselves to marketing based on how "extreme" the product is. In this case, the "Mello" name would seem to preclude any extremity. Fortunately, the advertising of the early '90's has worked, and I still remember that "there's nothin' mellow about it." However, the complete dearth of recent advertising may have some younger citrus connoiseurs questioning Mello Yellow's extremity, given more recent campaigns for Mountain Dew and Surge. Alas, unless finishing a paper 6 seconds before a deadline qualifies as an extreme sport, I don't have the qualifications to judge this category, since I lead a relatively non-extreme life.
Watch out for:If you buy a bottle from the vending machine, watch out. It is best to wait 5-10 minutes before opening. The fall from the machine turns the bottle into an explosive weapon. And if you do open it up too early, the best case scenario is that soda leaks over the edges, leaving the bottle extremely sticky for all eternity.
Conclusion: Mello Yello gets high marks for me because of its rich, full-bodied flavor. I admit it also wins some nostalgia points, and I am probably acclimated to its taste due to all the Friday nights of my early youth I spent chugging the stuff. My dentist says it is better to drink diet soda, but if I have to drink regular soda, drink it fast rather than nursing it over the course of the afternoon. To that, I say, "Bottom's up!"
Coffee was also a possibility, but there are already a lot of people (one on UThink even) who do analysis of coffee and coffee-related issues much better than I could ever hope to. One thing I do have a lot of experience with is citrus-flavored soda (pop). This makes me the perfect person to review various citrus-flavored sodas. Also, there are not that many people who do this kind of work, so in a sense I'll be blazing a trail - a sticky trail of fruityish burp inducing sleep averting goodness.
What are my goals here? Let me tell you.