What’s in Mountain Dew? Decoding the Secret Formula

Mountain Dew is a popular carbonated soft drink that has been available since the 1940s. It is well-known for its bright green color, its unique flavor, and its associations with extreme sports and youth culture. However, despite its popularity, many people don’t know much about what’s in Mountain Dew, and some have even raised concerns about its ingredients. In this article, we’ll decode the secret formula of Mountain Dew and explore the ingredients that make up this iconic drink.

The Origins of Mountain Dew

Before we dive into the ingredients of Mountain Dew, let’s take a brief look at its history. Mountain Dew was originally created in the 1940s by two brothers from Tennessee, Barney and Ally Hartman. The drink was initially marketed as a mixer for whiskey, but it soon became popular on its own. In the 1950s, the brand was acquired by the Pepsi-Cola Company, and since then it has grown to become one of the most recognizable soft drink brands in the world.

The Evolution of Mountain Dew’s Formula

Over the years, Mountain Dew has undergone several formula changes as Pepsi has tried to respond to changing consumer tastes and preferences. In the early years of the brand, the drink was made with real sugar and lemon juice, which gave it a bright, tangy flavor. However, in the 1980s, Pepsi replaced the real sugar with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is cheaper and easier to produce.

In 2009, Pepsi introduced a new version of Mountain Dew called Mountain Dew Throwback, which uses real sugar instead of HFCS. This version is marketed as a throwback to the original formula and is sold in vintage-style packaging. However, it is only available for a limited time each year and is not as widely available as the regular Mountain Dew formula.

The Ingredients in Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew is made up of a long list of ingredients, some of which are unique to the brand. Here are the key ingredients in Mountain Dew:

  • Carbonated water
  • High fructose corn syrup (or real sugar in the case of Mountain Dew Throwback)
  • Orange juice concentrate
  • Citric acid
  • Natural flavor
  • Sodium benzoate (preserves freshness)
  • Caffeine
  • Sodium citrate
  • Gum arabic
  • Erythorbic acid (preserves freshness)
  • Calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor)
  • Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)
  • Yellow 5
  • Blue 1

What Do These Ingredients Do?

Let’s break down some of the key ingredients in Mountain Dew and explore what they do:

High Fructose Corn Syrup or Real Sugar?

The main sweetener used in Mountain Dew is usually high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, Mountain Dew Throwback is made with real sugar instead. In terms of taste, there is a subtle difference between the two formulas, with many people preferring the taste of the Throwback version. However, the difference in taste is not significant enough to make one formula superior to the other.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a common food additive that is used to add tartness and acidity to foods and drinks. It is found naturally in many fruits, including lemons and limes. In Mountain Dew, citric acid is used to give the drink its signature tangy flavor.


Mountain Dew contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that can increase alertness and reduce fatigue. A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains about 54 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly the same amount as a cup of tea.

Sodium Benzoate and Erythorbic Acid

These two ingredients are used to preserve the freshness of Mountain Dew. Sodium benzoate is a common food preservative that can prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus. Erythorbic acid is also a preservative that is used to prevent oxidation, which can cause foods and drinks to spoil over time.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is an emulsifier that is used to help blend the different ingredients in Mountain Dew together. It is derived from vegetable oil and contains a small amount of the element bromine. Some health experts have raised concerns about the safety of BVO, as high levels of bromine can be toxic. However, the amount of BVO in Mountain Dew is very small, and it is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies such as the FDA.

Artificial Color Additives

Mountain Dew contains two artificial color additives: Yellow 5 and Blue 1. These colors are added to give the drink its distinctive neon green color. Some studies have suggested that these color additives may have negative health effects, such as hyperactivity in children. However, regulatory agencies such as the FDA have determined that these color additives are safe for consumption in the small amounts found in Mountain Dew.

Is Mountain Dew Safe to Drink?

Despite concerns about some of its ingredients, Mountain Dew is generally considered safe for consumption by both the FDA and other regulatory agencies. Like many soft drinks, it contains high levels of sugar and caffeine, which can have negative health effects if consumed in excessive amounts. However, when consumed in moderation, Mountain Dew and other soft drinks can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.


Mountain Dew is an iconic soft drink that has been enjoyed by millions of people for decades. Its unique blend of sweet, tangy, and caffeinated flavors make it a popular choice for those who enjoy bold taste experiences. While some of its ingredients have raised concerns among health experts, regulatory agencies have determined that Mountain Dew is safe for consumption in moderation. As with any food or drink, it is important to consume Mountain Dew and other soft drinks in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.


Here are some of the most common questions people have about the ingredients in Mountain Dew:

  • What is the main ingredient in Mountain Dew?

    The main ingredients in Mountain Dew are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup or real sugar, and orange juice concentrate.

  • Does Mountain Dew contain caffeine?

    Yes, Mountain Dew contains caffeine. A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains about 54 milligrams of caffeine.

  • Is brominated vegetable oil (BVO) safe?

    While there have been some concerns raised about the safety of BVO, the amount found in Mountain Dew is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies such as the FDA.

  • Are the artificial color additives in Mountain Dew safe?

    Yes, regulatory agencies such as the FDA have determined that the amounts of Yellow 5 and Blue 1 found in Mountain Dew are safe for consumption.


  • https://www.pepsicorecycling.com/facts/brands/mountain-dew/
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-mountain-dew#concerns
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325432#nutrition
  • https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a24925343/mountain-dew-ingredients/
  • https://www.verywellfit.com/is-mountain-dew-bad-for-you-4147194

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