Mountain Dew Zero vs Diet Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew Zero vs Diet Mountain Dew

I am admittedly a Diet Mountain Dew-Aholic.  Every morning I snag a DMD from the refrigerator before I sit down at the PC and start working on Pojo for the day.  I have always loved the flavor of Mountain Dew.  Diet Mountain Dew was introduced in 1986 and that’s about when I switched away from the sugary side of sweetness to the fake side of sweetness.  It’s probably unhealthy either way, but there are worse vices out there.  

Last week, an article crossed my newsfeed about the Pepsi Company releasing a new flavor of Mountain Dew in the form of Mountain Dew Zero (MTN Dew Zero).  I was a bit confused.  Was Pepsi simply rebranding Diet Mountain Dew?  Or was this a totally new and unique flavor?  I didn’t really see any news about a change to the ingredients.

And then, Lo and Behold, I’m walking through Target yesterday and I see both sitting side-by-side on the shelf!

MTN Dew Zero Target Display
MTN Dew Zero Target Display

I figured it was time for a taste test, and a little bit of research.

The first thing I was really curious about was the ingredients comparison.  It has always amazed me that the first two ingredients in Diet Mountain Dew are:

  • 1 – Water (of course)
  • and 2 – Concentrated Orange Juice!  Wow!

I’m not sure how many people still know the DMD’s second ingredient is Orange Juice.  “Hey, I’m getting my orange juice!”  My wife always mocked me though saying that, as Orange Juice has a ton of calories, and the amount of O.J. must be extremely negligible if there are still zero calories in a can of DMD.

Let’s look at the ingredients comparison:

DMD vs MTN Zero ingredients
Diet Mountain Dew (left) vs MTN Zero (Right) ingredients

The ingredients are different:  

Diet Mountain Dew – Carbonated Water, Concentrated orange juice, Citric acid, Natural flavor, Citrus pectin, Potassium benzoate (preserves freshness), Aspartame, Potassium citrate, Caffeine (54 mg/12 fl.oz.), Sodium citrate, Acesulfame potassium, Sucralose, Gum arabic, Sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), Calcium disodium EDTA, Brominated vegetable oil, Yellow 5

MTN Dew Zero Ingredients – Carbonated Water, Citric Acid, Natural flavor, Potassium benzoate (preserves freshness), Citrus Pectin, Aspartame, Potassium Citrate, Caffeine 68 mg/12 fl.oz.), Gum Arabic, Acesulfame potassium, Sucralose, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Disodium EDTA and Yellow 5.

Mmm, how I love that daily dose of chemicals!  Anyway, the ingredients are indeed different.  There is no Orange Juice in MTN Dew Zero, and there are 14 more milligrams of caffeine in MTN Dew Zero.  

Both these versions of zero calorie Mountain Dew use “Tuned Up Taste”, which is a blend of  3 artificial sweeteners: sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium.  Many diet sodas just use one of these three Sweeteners.  

Taste Test
Taste Test DMD vs MTN Dew Zero

Taste Test – Diet MTN Dew vs MTN Dew Zero

We waited a full day after purchasing to conduct our taste test.  We wanted both sodas to reach ideal cold temperatures in the refrigerator. 

We conducted a blind taste test with 3 different people – all regular Diet Mountain Dew drinkers (one being me).  My wife poured them into cold beer glasses, and we all sampled multiple sips of each soda between bites of New York Style Pizza.  

Our Results:

The taste differences are subtle. They both are delicious. But: 

All 3 of us easily picked out the old Diet Mountain Dew soda, and all 3 of us preferred the taste of old Diet Mountain Dew over the taste of the new Mountain Dew Zero.  

I would say that MTN Dew Zero has a “cleaner” taste.  The best description I can think of is that Diet Mountain Dew’s flavor lingers on the palate a little longer; whereas MTN Dew Zero tastes a little crisper and shorter on the palate – more like diet 7-Up.  Both of these the Dews have the citrus flavor that pays homage to real Mountain Dew.  

It reminds me of when you get a fountain version of your favorite soft drink and the flavor is just a tad off, but it’s still pretty good.  I would equivalate the differences in the Dews to that example. 

I will be extremely happy drinking either version of the 0 calorie Dew.  But if both are sitting on the shelf next to each other, I will continue to buy Diet Mountain Dew.

Pojo Update – I had a taste test during my Super Bowl 2020 party.  There were over 20 people here, but I only had a blind taste test for the 3 regular Diet Dew Drinkers at the party.  All 3 of these participants also preferred Diet Mountain Dew.

So the final tally on our end was that DMD was the clear favorite.  Diet Mountain Dew defeated MTN Dew Zero 6 – 0.  

P.S. – The way I understand things, is that MTN Dew Zero is not replacing Diet Mountain Dew.  They are meant to coexist peacefully like Diet Coke and Coke Zero.  

MTN Dew Zero Black Tab
MTN Dew Zero has a unique Black Pull Tab