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Mountain Dew Baja Blast Is Coming to You in Cans and Bottles, While Supplies Last

Mountain Dew Baja Blast Is Coming to You in Cans and Bottles, While Supplies Last


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Mountain Dew Baja Blast hits shelves for a little while beginning on April 20

Until supplies run out, Mountain Dew Baja Blast and Sangrita Blast will be available on store shelves.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast — best known as the glowing beverage perfectly calibrated for your Taco Bell order — is coming to you in cans and bottles for a short time, PepsiCo. announced this week.

Beginning Monday, April 20, Baja Blast will be available on store shelves, but “once the last of the bottles and cans are sold, that's it,” said the company. Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast will also be available in the same format until supplies are gone.

After that, both Mountain Dew drinks will return to the realm of Taco Bell exclusivity.

Since it arrived at Taco Bell, by the way, Baja Blast has become the chain’s second-largest and fastest-growing beverage. That popularity has translated into more than $1 billion in retail sales, according to PepsiCo.

Pepsi, by the way, recently replaced Coca-Cola as the NBA’s official marketing partner. In the United States and Canada, that means Pepsi will focus on Mountain Dew as its leading soft drink brand.


Mtn Dew Brings Back the Blast

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- DEW Nation's most-requested flavor--Mtn Dew Baja Blast--will be available in bottles and cans again this spring and summer along with something new.

The tropical lime-flavored beverage, which was introduced 11 years ago exclusively at Taco Bell restaurants, will hit shelves nationwide starting on April 20. And for the first time, Mtn Dew Sangrita Blast, the citrus punch beverage available only at Taco Bell, will be available for a limited time in bottles and cans as well.

"Mountain Dew has always been committed to having ongoing conversations with our loyal fans and really listening to what they want," said Greg Lyons, vice president of marketing, Mountain Dew. "After seeing the excitement DEW Nation had with last year's surprise announcement of Mtn Dew Baja Blast coming to shelves, there was no question we had to bring it back."

The delicious beverages will only be available in bottles and cans while supplies last, and fans are expected to stock up, according to Dew execs. Once the last of the bottles and cans are sold, that's it.

Mtn Dew Baja Blast is the second-largest and -fastest growing beverage sold at Taco Bell, and has generated more than $1 billion in retail sales since its introduction. It's the most-requested flavor among the Dew fans and has generated more than 1.2 million mentions on Twitter globally in the past four years.


Apr 24, 2014

News: Mountain Dew Baja Blast Available in Stores for a Limited Time

Formerly exclusive to Taco Bell soda fountains, Mountain Dew Baja Blast (stylized as "Mtn Dew") will be available for a limited time this summer in individually in 20-oz bottles or 24-oz(!) cans, as well as 12-packs of 12-oz cans starting May 5, 2014.

The flavor was originally conceived 10 years ago as a Taco Bell exclusive (they call it a "Taco Bell Original") featuring the taste of tropical lime.

Indeed, some fans cite it as the sole reason for Taco Bell visits and it is the most requested flavor by Mountain Dew consumers.

If you're looking to stock up, the cans and bottles will only available until the end of summer, while supplies last. After that, it's back to Taco Bell for your only source of Baja Blast.

If you're having trouble finding Baja Blast, Mountain Dew has an online product locator that may help you in your search.


Share All sharing options for: How Mountain Dew Came to Perpetuate a Deep-Seated Appalachian Stereotype

How did Appalachia become stereotyped by a popular beverage?

A little over a year ago, I became obsessed with the concept of shame.

For me, beginning to think about (and talk about) shame as an emotion was like searching for a word that’s been on the tip of your tongue for ages and then comes to you like a thunderbolt in the middle of washing dishes or when you’re nodding off to an X-Files rerun. Exploring it was simultaneously deeply cathartic and like sticking my hand in an emotional meat grinder.

Over a series of months, a perfect storm of books, lectures and wee-small-hours conversations revealed to me—like peeling back the layers of an onion (weepy eyes and all)—that the feeling I had called so many other things (embarrassment, pigheadedness, discomfort, willfulness) was shame at its core.

It also became clear fairly quickly that a lot of my shame coalesced around one thing: my relationship with Diet Mountain Dew.

For those who have never had the pleasure of sipping an ice cold can of Mountain Dew, you’ve probably only heard talk of its vices, of which there are (admittedly) many. Even if you might not crack open a bottle in your lifetime, I encourage you to take a moment and imagine a highly carbonated, nose-tickling bubble and a tart-sweet, citrusy flavor that’s similar to a church picnic punch on steroids.

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, Mountain Dew . was not a novelty, not an ironic goof—just simply a way of life.

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, Mountain Dew (and its diet counterpart, my beverage of choice) was an omnipresent force, its signature emerald-tinged, translucent 20-ounce bottles filling up coolers at backyard barbecues and littering the weed-lined backroads. My teachers drank it, my doctor drank it and prisoners would drink it while picking up the littered roadside bottles. It was not a novelty, not an ironic goof—just simply a way of life.

When I moved away from home, it became very clear that I should be ashamed of drinking Diet Mountain Dew (my parents and I still lovingly abbreviate it as "DMD" in text messages). Even today when I discuss drinking it in public, people look at me incredulously as if waiting for a punchline. I’ve never once had someone without deep mountains connections place a hand on my shoulder and say, "Me too, sister."

This level of judgement has only heightened from year to year as I’ve settled into a career as a food writer. I’m someone who people think should—in so many words—know better. I’ve worried that I won’t get work, that I will be perceived as less intelligent and qualified because I occasionally enjoy a soda that’s lambasted as the scourge of the soft drink earth. In the eyes of so many people, there’s no room at the table for consumption of the irony-free profane.

As a defense mechanism, I’ve become a trivia expert on the most esoteric facts available about Mountain Dew so I can titter them off as a nervous shield. If there’s a pop culture reference about DMD you need to know—including that bopping Lana Del Ray jam and its brief mention in a recent Paul Muldoon poem—I’m your girl. For a time, I thought I could head the scolding off at the pass by making fun of myself first or displaying some arcane knowledge.

That approach never really worked.

Would people feel as open to chiding me or ribbing me about the drink if I were a man? Probably not. Would people feel like they could tease if I didn’t have a fleck of twang in my voice, if I didn’t slide deeper into my mountain accent after a couple of drinks? That’s definitely a no.

My consumption of Diet Mountain Dew ensures that I’m served a double shot of shame—complete with Backwoods Barbie stereotype—on a fairly regular basis.

At this point, I should probably make this clear: I’m no Mountain Dew apologist. Nothing great will ever come from consuming yellow dye #5. It has no nutritional value. It is wickedly acidic and (if you’re drinking the less aspartame-influenced variety) highly caloric. It is "not good" in a decidedly unsexy way, the way other corporate Frankenstein creations like Ho-Hos and Combos are easily tossed into the furnace of public scorn. It’s not even, really, an acceptable guilty pleasure. I would probably get fewer dirty looks if I snorted a couple of lines of cocaine every day.

It is, however, a drink that—for better or worse—ties me to my home.

Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, elegantly summed up my decades-long tug of war with how Mountain Dew relates to my identity in a recent interview.


For me, that argument continues to manifest itself on both a personal and interpersonal level. For my mountain home, shame surrounding Mountain Dew has become a rhetorical touchstone that’s somehow come to shape the country’s perception of life in modern day Appalachia. In both cases, it’s a prickly briar patch of fact and lore jumbled together.

As if I was living in some sort of divinely staged cosmic play, my theoretical interest in shame came home to roost shortly after my exploration began one Sunday afternoon at home in New Orleans. Sitting at my kitchen counter with DMD in hand while my then-boyfriend concocted an intricate lunch, without lifting his eyes a gauntlet was thrown: "You have to stop drinking Diet Mountain Dew. It’s gross."

At first, I hee-hawed and rolled my eyes. Why would this kind of line-in-the-sand stance about a beverage come hundreds (er, thousands) of cans into a relationship? Shouldn’t he have flown the coop at the first pop-a-top? How could I feel ashamed in my own house? Did he really just tell me what to drink?

. no food stuff is more personal to me, more deeply burrowed into my sense of identity than Diet Mountain Dew.

Then, I knew I should’ve seen it coming. He was unhappy. I had been traveling too much, and when I was home, I was still distant. Shameful or not, no food stuff is more personal to me, more deeply burrowed into my sense of identity than Diet Mountain Dew. It’s not just a beverage—it’s a portable sense of home. Picking on Diet Mountain Dew was a surefire way to get my attention and cut me to the quick. It was, in his eyes, a more intimate, longterm partner than he had become.

Years before when visiting my hometown for the first time, we took a stroll down Main Street and passed a teenager with a freshly sprouted goatee in a cut off t-shirt carrying a case of Mountain Dew atop his shoulder like a mounted bazooka.

"Oh, wow," my boyfriend remarked, a little awestruck. "That guy! He was just carrying a big case of Mountain Dew." I said I hadn’t really noticed as he shook his head. "So this really is where you get it from."

In the kitchen that day, Mountain Dew was used as a stand in for a harder conversation about our waning relationship that we had been dancing around for months. In more national conversations, it often seems to take up this stunt double role, particularly when addressing rural poverty.

While Mountain Dew’s target audience today might be neon tank top wearing bros and skateboarding teenagers, my Appalachian demographic—namesake and all—were the original consumers.

"Mountain Dew" is a centuries-old mountain slang term for moonshine . initially crafted as a mixer for whiskey in the early 1930s.

"Mountain Dew" is a centuries-old mountain slang term for moonshine, which Tennessee-bred creators Barney and Ally Hartman found fitting because their bubbly elixir was initially crafted as a mixer for whiskey in the early 1930s. It was hot potato’d around through several bottling companies before eventually being sold to Pepsi in 1964, and nationally marketed.

Today, there’s a Mountain Dew to suit every taste—from Code Red (cherry) to Baja Blast (lime)—and enough generic knockoffs with names like Mountain Lion, Mountain Lightning and Mountain Holler to really put an exclamation point on the rural connection.

More recently, what’s driven home the jerry-rigged wiring between Mountain Dew and Appalachia is the use of the phrase "Mountain Dew Mouth" to describe the poor oral hygiene habits in the area which have led to widespread gum disease and tooth decay. Originally coined in the (poverty porn-laden) 2009 Diane Sawyer special, Children of the Mountains, the phrase has been recycled over and over again throughout the national media in spurts over the past six years.

The phrase is inherently noxious. Each time I hear it, I feel angry—angry and ashamed.

No national news outlet, it seems, cares to shine a real light on the deep and profound problems (drug wars, economic stagnation, post-coal mine environmental havoc) facing the area that causes people to place their health on the backburner and, more often than not, fall on the crutch of unhealthy food and drink.

. Appalachians are portrayed as individuals who are unable to get out of their own way . problems caused by excessive Mountain Dew consumption.

The seemingly relentless desire to perpetuate negative regional stereotypes (rotting teeth! no shoes!) is completely exhausting. Time and time again, Appalachians are portrayed as individuals who are unable to get out of their own way—the kind of people who must have change enacted upon them in order to better themselves. Story after story presents tightened regulations and banning the purchase of soda with food stamps as the lone solution to problems caused by excessive Mountain Dew consumption.

The presentation of a drastic policy overhaul as the solitary option is a little dehumanizing, and fails to take notice of the deeply rooted social norms of the region (read: Outsiders, don’t fucking tell us what to do). Tightening regulations won’t fix an economy so tied to a dying industry that a staggering majority of residents either rely on government aid to eat or are regularly hungry. Lack of accessible medical care is still a reality for thousands, particularly women and young mothers. The problems faced by the region are painfully real, and deserve not to be trivialized or oversimplified in the national spotlight.

Appalachia isn’t a pity case, and Mountain Dew is only sideshow to the heart of the matter.

Figuring out how to chip away at problems so deeply embedded in a region is astronomically much more complicated than a micro lens shot of a single caffeinated beverage.

My dad—a gentle, 30-year lawyer who likes to describe himself as an "old steady sheepdog"—called me a couple of months ago to describe the scene unfolding near his office in my hometown. A heroin dealer has apparently set up a fairly prolific den on his block, a place which once was only home to quaint families, a pocket watch repairman and a hyper-local internet service provider known (hilariously) as the I-Club. My first daycare was just a few doors down.

"Belle, I swear to God, it snowed eleven inches today," my dad sighed. "Nothing is moving here. Then, I look outside, and those guys next door were walking their bobcat out on a rope to go piss in the snow—a fucking bobcat!"

Weeks later, he reported finding syringes in the street. Last week, my tiny county announced the statistics for heroin busts so far in 2015: nine deaths and 76 overdoses in three months.

In the mountains, you can’t look away because there’s nowhere to turn a blind eye.

In the mountains, you don’t look away because you remember when the heroin dealer was a second string quarterback.

In the mountains, you stare death in the face because the latest boy who OD’d played Mortal Kombat with you while slurping Mountain Dew.

When I read numbers like that, I’m immediately wracked with guilt that I’m not there, that I’m not rallying the troops to preserve the tightly knit heritage of the place that raised me. But, like so many, I feel helpless. I don’t really have any answers.

Instead, I try to tell the stories of a town full of people who consider neighbors to be like family, a town brimming over with folks who would drive all night to New Orleans if they thought I was ever in trouble.

The ties that bind know no distance.

Instead, I drink Diet Mountain Dew—swish it around in my mouth, feel it all syrup and fizz—and pray to God I never become a person who gets above my raising. I’d like to think if you cut me open a little Diet Mountain Dew would be right there in my bloodstream, hovering just below the surface, like the homesickness that never quite goes away.


Taco Bell Is Serving Up A New Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze That Has A Piña Colada Twist

Mountain Dew Baja Blast has been available at Taco Bell since 2004, and the Freeze version came about after that for an icy way to stay cool. Although we already have a new Strawberry Lemonade Freeze to enjoy for summer 2021, the Mexican fast food spot decided that wasn’t enough and has just unveiled the Mountain Dew Baja Blast Colada Freeze!

Taco Bell is dubbing 2021 the Summer of Baja, and we’re so onboard. The difference between the Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze and the new Mountain Dew Baja Blast Colada Freeze? The colada, of course! The Freeze has been combined with the taste of a traditional piña colada, which brings the flavor of sweet tropical cream. Now you can see why this is such a summer-ready beverage.

For even more good news, you won’t have an issue getting your hands on the new Freeze. It’s the first time that Taco Bell is putting a Baja Blast on menus nationwide. You can order a regular for $2.39 or large for $2.59 — or just wait until Happier Hour, which is daily at participating locations from 2 to 5 p.m., and you can get it for $1.

In addition to the Mountain Dew Baja Blast Colada Freeze, Taco Bell has brought back the Naked Chicken Chalupa. The bite was first introduced in 2017, but disappeared after that. Beginning on May 20, you can order it again and savor the all-white-meat chicken that’s marinated in Mexican spices, rolled in a crunchy coating, and crisped, followed by being loaded with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, and avocado ranch sauce. This offering is also available nationwide, so it looks like we know what we’re ordering for lunch today!


FACT CHECK: Is PepsiCo Discontinuing Its Mountain Dew Product Line?

An image shared on Facebook more than 4,700 times claims PepsiCo is canceling the Mountain Dew product line over long-term health concerns.

Verdict: False

A spokeswoman for the company told the Daily Caller the claim was &ldquonot true whatsoever.&rdquo The executive officer quoted in the image appears to be a fictional character.

The internet is replete with misinformation about consumer products. In this particular case, the meme makes a dubious claim about PepsiCo production of Mountain Dew, a popular soft drink. (RELATED: Hoax Claims That Pepsi Products Are Infected With HIV)

&ldquoDue to the increased evidence of drinking our line of Mtn Dew (sic) products has been shown to adversely affect health over long periods of use, we have decided to discontinue production of these products,&rdquo the post credits PepsiCo Chief Product Officer Niwrad Eiknarf with saying. &ldquoProduction will cease as of June 31, 2020 and availability will be limited to stock on hand until it is deplenished.&rdquo

However, the Caller didn&rsquot find media reports of parent company PepsiCo cancelling the Mountain Dew product line. There isn&rsquot any mention of such action in PepsiCo&rsquos 2019 proxy statement or other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. PepsiCo hasn&rsquot published a press release announcing the move either.

Further adding to the post&rsquos dubiousness, PepsiCo details its executive officers on its corporate leadership page, and chief product officer is not one of the positions listed there. Eiknarf appears to be a fictional character.

Kristen Mueller, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, told the Caller that the post was &ldquonot true whatsoever.&rdquo

The Centers for Disease Control recommends limiting consumption of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Frequent intake of these drinks can increase the risk of contracting a number of negative health conditions, including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.


Score: 3.2/10

They don’t even try to make it NOT look like candy.

Where Can I Get This?

Kroger grocery stores and select Hot Topic locations ($1.57)

What The Hell is This?

Traditional Japanese lemon and lime soda, and the other one has traditional artificial strawberry color and flavor added.

What’s it Like?

Ramune tastes like an Arnold Palmer that’s crafted out of Sprite and lemonade. There’s an indescribable, yet sinister aftertaste that clearly differentiates this from “normal” lemon-lime sodas. That probably comes from frustration that comes from the seventeen step instruction manual it takes to open the bottle.

Other notes:

Turns out that Ramune traditionally utilizes something called a “Codd-Neck” bottle, that was first designed in 1872. The carbonation in the drink is released when a glass marble is pushed downward into the neck, trapping it a lady parts-shaped prison forever. When you drink Ramune, the marble rattles around rather irritatingly, and this also doubles as portion control. Only small sips of the drink are allowed through the neck unless you can tip it to the exact degree to let it flow freely.

If you are still thirsty, Ramune also comes in all kinds of other delicious flavors, including teriyaki sauce!


Make Your Drink Come True With Pepsi Spire, The Future Of Fountain Beverages

PURCHASE, N.Y. , May 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Have you dreamed of a raspberry lemon Mountain Dew, a Diet Pepsi flavored with vanilla and strawberry or a Brisk Iced Tea with a splash of cherry? Now if you can dream it, you can drink it with Pepsi Spire -- a portfolio of innovative fountain beverage dispensers that allow consumers to create more than 1,000 customized beverages with the touch of a button, while giving foodservice operators a choice of flexible and cost-effective equipment to pick from to best meet their needs. Pepsi Spire is now available in select U.S. locations and will continue to roll out through 2014.

The Pepsi Spire portfolio currently consists of three state-of-the-art touchscreen fountain unit models that allow consumers to easily create their own personalized beverages in a fun and engaging environment. Pepsi Spire pours a wide range of brands from PepsiCo's diverse portfolio of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, including Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Brisk Iced Tea and SoBe Lifewater, as well as an assortment of zero-calorie flavor shots, including cherry, lemon, vanilla, strawberry, raspberry and lime.

"We are in the middle of an exciting evolution of personalization. The 'maker movement' has influenced the way people relate to brands and one another and design has infiltrated everything we consume," said Brad Jakeman , president, PepsiCo Global Beverages Group (@BradJakeman). "What better way to empower consumers to make their own personalized drinks than by giving them the chance to create more than 1,000 beverage combinations with one simple touch of our sleek, engaging, modern Pepsi Spire."

"Not only does Pepsi Spire bring the fountain beverage experience to life for consumers in a dynamic way with the brands they love, but it meets the varying business needs of our foodservice operators," said Kirk Tanner , president, PepsiCo Foodservice. "Our customers want flexible solutions and a portfolio of equipment choices, while also being innovative, fresh and fun. The Pepsi Spire portfolio offers something for everyone and it will play a key role in our broader foodservice growth strategy."

The Pepsi Spire lineup currently includes three models, each designed to meet a specific set of foodservice customer needs:

  • Pepsi Spire 1.1 is a countertop self-service unit that allows consumers to create up to 40 beverage combinations using a 10-inch touchscreen.
  • Pepsi Spire 2.0 is a countertop self-service unit that allows consumers to create up to 500 beverage combinations using a 15-inch touchscreen. This equipment is also available as a countertop crew-service unit for restaurant staff.
  • Pepsi Spire 5.0 , which is launching soon, allows consumers to create more than 1,000 beverage combinations using a 32-inch touchscreen. This equipment will be available as both a self-service countertop or as a free-standing unit.

The equipment evolved from the Pepsi Touch Tower, which was piloted in the U.S. in 2013 and is also available in Europe , Central America and the Caribbean .

The equipment's design shares the same visual design language that is being used across a number of PepsiCo's recent equipment innovations, including its Interactive Vending Machine and Smart Cooler.

Pepsi Spire 2.0 and 5.0 are also smart equipment, which allows PepsiCo and its customers to identify popular beverage customizations, gain real-time consumer preference insights and remotely update touchscreen content to further enhance the consumer experience.

The equipment portfolio will be on display at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago from May 17 to 20 .

For more information on Pepsi Spire, visit www.pepsispire.com and follow @PepsiSpire on Twitter.

The deployment of Pepsi Spire is the latest example of PepsiCo leveraging its diverse food and beverage portfolio as well as its R&D and Design capabilities to provide a unique set of benefits to foodservice customers. Other recent examples include:

  • In May, PepsiCo and Taco Bell announced that, for the first time, Mtn Dew Baja Blast &ndash which was introduced 10 years ago as a "Taco Bell Original" fountain beverage &ndash would also be available for a limited time in bottles and cans until the end of the summer or while supplies last. PepsiCo also partnered with Taco Bell in 2012 to reinvent its most popular menu item and introduced the Doritos Locos Tacos.
  • In February, Shanghai Disney Resort announced a strategic alliance with PepsiCo and Tingyi Holding Corp. In addition to providing a wide variety of well-known, high-quality PepsiCo and Master Kong beverage brands, the partnership will also focus on developing innovative beverage equipment for guests who will visit Shanghai Disney Resort and exploring unique menu items through culinary innovation.
  • Last December, Buffalo Wild Wings announced PepsiCo as the restaurant's primary soft drink and non-carbonated beverage provider. The two companies also announced plans to collaborate on joint marketing initiatives tied to sports and entertainment and to explore unique menu offerings with PepsiCo snack brands. In March, PepsiCo launched Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wing flavored potato chips inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings.

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2013, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.


The Worst Diet Sodas You Can Drink

This week, a freshly revamped Diet Pepsi&mdashwith the phrase "now aspartame free" on its silver label&mdashwill hit supermarket shelves nationwide. PepsiCo ditched the controversial sweetener aspartame in response to consumer demand, replacing it with sucralose, known by the brand name Splenda, and acesulfame potassium, or ace-K, both sweeteners thought to be safer.

"The change reflects widespread public concern about the safety of aspartame," says Lisa Y. Lefferts, senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a food safety watchdog group. "Diet sodas contain several questionable ingredients, but aspartame is the one we&rsquore most concerned about."

Several animal studies have linked aspartame to cancer risk, and a highly controversial study from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2012 explored a possible link in humans, although even the researchers from that study admitted that it was a weak link. A study last year by the American Cancer Society did not find a link. Other artificial sweeteners&mdashincluding ace-K and sucralose (both of which are in the newly reformulated Diet Pepsi)&mdashmay also pose a cancer risk, and there are safety questions about artificial colors, including the caramel coloring found in most sodas (even some ginger ales), as well as certain emulsifiers.

Before you spit out the diet cola swishing around your mouth right this second, the fact is that the cancer risk from food additives is likely pretty small, Lefferts says. And diet sodas are still likely a better choice than their full-sugar cousins. "We know that sugar drinks are a major cause of obesity and have also been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, not to mention tooth decay," Lefferts says. (Though diet soda's hardly healthy check out this comparison of regular soda vs. diet soda.)

Based on what we know about diet soda's main components, here's how they stack up.

Least Harmful?

The newly reformulated Diet Pepsi no longer has aspartame&mdashso that may push it to the top of the list. But it still contains acesulfame potassium (ace-K), which is poorly tested, although two studies suggest it may pose a cancer risk, as well as sucralose (Splenda), which the CSPI is now approaching with caution since the authors of a forthcoming study link it to leukemia. "The thing is, aspartame has undergone better cancer testing than these other artificial sweeteners," Lefferts explains, "so while it appears to be the worst from a risk perspective, it's possible that these others are just as bad and we just don't know it."

Diet Pepsi also contains caramel color, which is not like caramel you might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan. "The caramel color used in soda is made with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures," Lefferts explains. In the process, contaminants like a cancer-causing agent called 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI, can form. The levels of 4-MI are much higher in Diet Pepsi than in Diet Coke, according to testing by Consumer Reports, although its most recent testing shows improvements.

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, concluded that 4-MI is "possibly carcinogenic to humans," and California now lists it as a carcinogen. Consumer Reports' testing has found that some sodas sold in California have much lower levels of 4-MI than the same brands sold in other states.

Diet Coke with Splenda also carries no risks from aspartame, but the sweetness comes from sucralose, which is now on the caution list, per the CSPI, as well as ace-K, which is on CSPI's avoid list. (Check out 57 sneaky names for sugar.)

Somewhere in the Middle

Aspartame is the go-to sweetener in most diet sodas, so regular drinkers might think twice about what they're guzzling. Their aspartame content, in order from least to most per 8-ounce bottle: Sprite Zero (50 mg), Coke Zero (58 mg), Pepsi Max (77 mg), Diet Pepsi and Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi (111 mg and 118 mg, respectively), Diet Dr. Pepper (123 mg), Diet Coke and Caffeine-Free Coke (125 mg).

Keep in mind that all of them&mdashexcept Sprite Zero&mdashalso contain caramel color and thus the potential for 4-MI.

And unless they're labeled as "caffeine-free," the caffeine in these sodas can be a problem for children, pregnant women, and people sensitive to caffeine.

Diet Mountain Dew may well be the riskiest diet soda because it has the greatest number of questionable additives. Not only does it contain aspartame, ace-K, and sucralose, but it also has more caffeine than most diet sodas, and it gets its color from yellow #5, which has been shown to cause hyperactivity in some children. As a kicker, Diet Mountain Dew also contains the emulsifier brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which has been shown to leave residues in body fat and the fat in the brain, liver, and other organs. The FDA in 1970 declared BVO not "generally recognized as safe," but permitted its use on an interim basis pending additional study, and it hasn&rsquot budged from that status since. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have pledged to remove BVO from any of their drinks that contain it, but they didn&rsquot say when that might happen.

At the end of the day, Diet Pepsi's reformulation without aspartame may just be one last-gasp effort by the diet soda industry to revive its flagging sales. More and more people are simply making healthier choices, including drinking low- and no-calorie beverages made without the worst of the sweeteners (like these delicious Sassy water recipes). A handful of examples: Steaz (sweetened with stevia and erythritol, a sugar alcohol that CSPI considers safe), DrinkMaple Pure Maple Water (with no added sugars, and half the natural sugar in coconut water), Reed's Ginger Brews (the "light" version is sweetened with stevia leaf extract and honey), Hot Lips Pear Soda (with no added sugar), and Zevia Cola (made with erythritol, stevia extract, and monk fruit extract).


PepsiCo to bottle popular Taco Bell drink

NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo is again mining its partnership with Taco Bell, with plans to start selling the Mexican food chain's popular Mountain Dew Baja Blast drinks in bottles and cans for the first time next month.

The soda and snack food company says it's planning a national TV ad for the drink, which will be available for a limited time starting May 5. Reports of the bottled version of Baja Blast — the second most popular drink at Taco Bell — began circulating among Mountain Dew fans after a photo of it appeared online. The bottles, which contain a neon greenish liquid, bear a small Taco Bell logo above the name.

PepsiCo and Yum Brands Inc., which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, didn't disclose terms of the agreement or how sales will be divided. PepsiCo is a beverage supplier for Yum, which it spun off in 1997. That means PepsiCo benefits when Yum's restaurant chains sell more drinks. The companies are hoping the cans and bottles of Baja Blast at supermarkets and retail outlets will boost awareness of the drink's availability at Taco Bell among Mountain Dew fans.

The latest offering comes after the successful launch of Taco Bell's Doritos-flavored tacos in 2012, which were developed in partnership with PepsiCo's Frito-Lay unit. PepsiCo followed up by offering Doritos in a "Taco Bell" flavor for a limited time last spring. Since then, Taco Bell has been looking at other ways to team up with Frito-Lay, including a test of "Quesdilla Dippers" that people dip in nacho cheese then crushed, spicy Fritos.

As for drinks, Taco Bell offers a variety of unique PepsiCo drinks at its more than 6,000 U.S. restaurants. The chain's chief marketing officer, Chris Brandt, said the exclusive drinks have helped increase the company's beverage sales, even as soda sales have declined in the broader market. He noted that people are more likely to buy drinks when they're available exclusively at the chain.

Baja Blast was developed exclusively for Taco Bell 10 years ago. Brandt said the drink's citrus flavor pairs well with the chain's food.



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