In the 1950s, advertisements for the original Mountain Dew soda featured the tagline, “It’ll tickle yore innards.” Packaging played up images of outhouses, "revenuers," moonshiners, and even a mascot known as Willy the Hillbilly. Today, branding for the electric yellow soda focuses on extreme sports, but its origins have little do with BMX bikes, skateboards, and snowboards. Mountain Dew got its start in 1940 at a bottling plant in Knoxville, Tennessee, where brothers Barney and Ally Hartman concocted a drink that would pair well with a shot of whiskey. Their lemon/lime carbonated chaser was made with real sugar.
Anatomy of a soft drink brand:
- The soda gradually found some regional success with the general public as a soft drink. In 1964, PepsiCo acquired the brand, and by 1966 it was being advertised with the ear-piercing catch-phrase, “Ya-Hoo, Mountain Dew!”
- By 1986, the marketing theme shifted to “Dew It Country Cool,” and by the mid-1990s, the soda's branding became linked to athletic greatness all over the world, exhorting folks to “Do the Dew.”
- The “Mountain Dew” name was trademarked in 1948. The term has roots in the 19th century, particularly in connection to Highland Scotch whiskey, and in the American South it was used as a nickname for homemade moonshine.