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Ever since I was a small child, I have been a Diet Coke bitch. Besides the occasional stomach-soothing ginger beer or celebratory Diet Dr. Pepper (my special occasion diet soda), Diet Coke is the only soda I drink with any regularity. (And by “regularity” I mean “at least three a day, even though they give me a headache.”)

I went into this tasting knowing I was hardly the target audience for Mountain Dew’s new offering, Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew. I honestly can’t remember the last time I did the Dew—original, diet, or Baja Blast—but I know I don’t find the original flavor offensive.

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This Flamin’ flavor seems to promise offense, however. The little anthropomorphic flame sneers at the consumer, daring them to take a wild, spicy sip; the can is garishly colored, all bright yellows and oranges; the soda itself is a violent, near-fluorescent hue.

It’s a lot of hype, a lot of marketing, and a lot of empty promises. I was struggling with a pretty bad bout of seasonal allergies the day of the taste test, and hoping the spicy drink would clear me out. My hopes were in vain.

Unlike Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Flamin’ Hot Doritos, I didn’t get much heat from this orange soda. My Gizmodo colleague Tom McKay (who did not have a stuffy nose) was similarly underwhelmed, so we tried adding booze (mezcal for Tom and vodka for me) to see if a little highball situation improved things. (I won’t spoil the outcome of that particular experiment.)

Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew is deeply cynical. It’s can of empty promises, without a real point of view, and almost completely lacking in heat. It’s not revolting, but aggressively mediocre, and seems to exist only so people will try it out of curiosity. If you’re a fan of the Dew, you can skip this one. (Maybe the new apple flavor will be better.)

 

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