Mountain Dew 'Johnson City Gold': PepsiCo Introduces Malt-Flavored Soda

In July, PepsiCo announced plans to test a new malt-flavored soda, "Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold." The flavor is named for the Mountain Dew's birthplace, Johnson, City, Tenn. and will have a kick of lemon-lime.

Now, PepsiCo is launching a campaign for fans to "Discover Gold" as it rolls out the drink's so-called "first batch" in select Kroger stores across the Midwest in mid-August. It will be available in Denver, Colo. and Charlotte, N.C. 7-Eleven stores starting September 1.

But Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold may not be finalized. PepsiCo is launching a campaign to re-name and re-design the packaging for the drink's "second batch" -- "batch" being a term usually relegated to the world of craft beers and spirits.

Fans are encouraged to visit for the chance to represent one of six U.S. regions -- South, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Great Plains and Great Lakes -- and help choose Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold's next incarnation when it hits shelves in 2013. A PepsiCo release breaks down the specifics of the contest.

Back in July, Reuters spoke with the editor of Beverage Digest, John Sicher, who offered some insight into why PepsiCo was exploring a malt-based beverage in the first place:

"In the declining soft drink business, a new product with a real point of difference might have potential for growth," Sicher told Reuters in an email. "Only time will tell."

Reuters also spoke with PepsiCo spokeswoman Andrea Foote, who said the move was also a step toward "craft sodas," taking a cue from the popularity of craft or small-batch beer and craft distilling. She also noted that malt-flavored drinks are popular in parts of Latin America and the Middle East, though they've yet to truly break into the U.S. market.

Let's hope PepsiCo maintains better control over this contest than it did with its recent "Dub the Dew" campaign to name another of Mountain Dew's new iterations, a green apple-flavored soda. The infamous message board 4chan managed to hack into the system and put its own submissions in the top 10 leaderboard. They were hardly polite, with names like "Hitler Did Nothing Wrong," "Diabeetus" or "Moist Nugget."



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