Dental Decay: Mountain Dew originally created as 'moonshine' mixer in Appalachia

With 31 grams of sugar and 36 milligrams of caffeine in one can, Mountain Dew has grown in popularity among children and teens, but was originally marketed to the Appalachian region.

Even though the soft drink is now targeted heavily toward children and teenagers, the brand originally developed in the Appalachia region as a moonshine mixer with a hillbilly attitude, said Dick Bridgforth, author of Mountain Dew: The History and Mountain Dew: Hillbilly Collectables.

Mountain Dew was first copyrighted in the mid-1940s by Ally and Barney Hartman, two brothers from Knoxville, Tenn., as a lemon-lime complement for moonshine.

They bottled that as a mixer for hard liquor

Bridgforth said. They wanted it to have the hillbilly aura about it.

When Tri-City Beverage, a bottling company in Johnson City, Tenn., started bottling the Hartman's brand, Bridgforth's father Bill, who worked at the company, paired the catchy name Mountain Dew with a more popular lemon-lime flavor that he developed.

That's the flavor that's in Mountain Dew today

Bridgforth said. Undoubtedly it's been adjusted
but the base flavor is the same. <BR><BR>When Pepsi Co. acquired the brand in 1964, the company started to move away from the hillbilly marketing strategy. Although Mountain Dew is popular nationally, it may have a strong hold in Ohio because of its early production history in Lima and Dayton in the 1960s, he said. <BR><BR>That's really when they started trying to appeal it to the high-energy kids
Bridgforth said. <BR><BR>Although sodas like Mountain Dew contain acid and sugar that can damage teeth, oral hygiene and access to dental care are just as important as healthy eating habits, said Debby Fulks-Larimer, a dental hygienist and director of the Athens City-County Health Department's dental sealant program.<BR><BR>Just drinking Mountain Dew is not going to rot your teeth
Fulks-Larimer said, adding that some children may drink soda at school and then not have the opportunity to brush their teeth. <BR><BR>I think that sugar plays a big role in the development of (tooth) decay and there does seem to be a high level of pop intake among children
said Dr. Nicole Conrath of Conrath Family Dental, 495 Richland Ave. Really nothing should be in a sippy cup or bottle except water or milk. <BR><BR>Although Mountain Dew is part of Bridgforth's family history, he recognized the concerns of dentists.<BR><BR>I don't think it's a great drink for kids. I think it's a problem with the brands
but the parents also have to take responsibility for it too
he said.

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