A new alcoholic drink, Hard Mtn Dew, has been launched by PepsiCo. The beverage brand, which was originally born in 1954 in the Appalachian Mountains, was originally uncolored and flavored with lemon and lime, and was used as a mixer with bourbon. The name "Mountain Dew" was a nickname for moonshine, which was produced by farmers from leftover crops. The labels on early bottles of the drink promised that it was "specially blended in the traditional hillbilly style."
After PepsiCo bought the company in 1964, it built a global youth-oriented brand, marketed by extreme sports athletes, and the soft drink moved away from its Appalachian roots. Hard Mtn Dew is a new product, and although it has little resemblance to its predecessor, it is “exactly what Mountain Dew is all about,” according to Charles Gordon Jr., owner of Tri-City Beverage.
The launch of Hard Mtn Dew reflects a major change in the alcohol industry. For the last century, drinks were categorized as beer, wine, or spirits, but recently, a fourth category of ready-to-drink beverages has emerged. This category includes hard seltzers, other flavored malt beverages, wine coolers, and canned cocktails. Although these drinks differ in their primary ingredients and how the alcohol is processed, they are typically flavored and packaged for casual consumption.
While these drinks have been popular, regulators and public health experts are concerned that they could reverse the long-term decline in alcohol consumption by young people. Sales of hard seltzers and ready-to-drink canned cocktails reached $10 billion in 2021, with double-digit growth expected in the coming years. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have both launched alcoholic products in the US market, and Monster Beverage, a maker of energy drinks, has rolled out its first line of alcoholic drinks called The Beast Unleashed.
However, the rising popularity of these drinks has caused concern among public health officials, as studies have shown that consuming even one alcoholic drink a day increases a person’s risk of cancer and heart disease. Additionally, the convenience of these new products could lead to a reversal of the long-term decline in alcohol consumption by young people.
Americans' drinking habits have been changing over time, with the popularity of avoiding calories and carbs driving down beer's market share. Alcohol companies are also trying to win back people under 30, who are consuming less alcohol than previous generations did at that age. The coronavirus pandemic has supercharged sales of portable products as consumers have sought out beverages that they can drink at home. “Health and wellness, variety, convenience—that’s the appeal,” said Bonnie Herzog, a Goldman Sachs managing director who analyzes the beverage industry.