Every time I stroll through the soft drink aisle and see the brand names Coke and Pepsi lining the shelves on either side – even now, nearing the end of my fifth decade on the planet – I think about my parents. Coke, when I was a child (and still, to some degree, today) was an adult beverage. “You can’t have it,” I hear my mother’s voice echo in my head. “It has caffeine.”

Back then, I didn’t know what caffeine was. But, I knew I wanted it.  So much of my youth was consumed by a longing to be older, to do what grown-ups did, to drink what they drank. And, as a result, I was primed to fall for the marketing strategy Mountain Dew employed in the 1980s.

Exclusively targeting the young, the brand released a string of high-energy television ads showing just how much fun people slightly older and much better looking than myself could have drinking their product. The best bit? Caffeine. Lots and lots of it.

My parents could have their stodgy old Coca-Cola, I decided. I wanted some ‘fun in the blazing sun.’ I needed to ‘Dew it to it.’

But, advertising can only get you so far. Jolt Cola, also heavily promoted in the 80s, never moved my needle because it tasted horrific. My childhood infatuation with the Dew had more to do with the product itself – I have vivid, probably romanticized, memories of how refreshing it was after a long pickup football game – than it did with the flashy ads.

As I grew older, my enthusiasm for the peculiar tang of Mountain Dew waned. In the past decade, I’ve plucked it from the shelf perhaps a handful of times, always following a pang of nostalgia, one which immediately fades once I’ve taken my first sip. I don’t, now, find the taste offensive. But, it’s just not the same.

I felt that same pang of nostalgia a few days ago when, after filling my tank with diesel, I stopped dead in my tracks inside a 7-11, staring at a display filled with Mountain Dew flavored Doritos. Without any thought, I grabbed two bags.

How could I not? What child of the 80s should turn down such an amazing opportunity?

You, as it turns out.

Doritos and Mountain Dew have a history, I’ve discovered. In 2014, they taste-tested Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. “It honestly wasn’t that disgusting,” said one guinea pig, in a failed attempt to give the product a tag line. The experiment failed, but the idea, unfortunately, lived on.

Some overpaid analyst – dreadfully hung-over, I’m sure, and desperate for new ideas to impress their boss – decided it would be worthwhile to simply invert the variables in that equation. The result, I’m sorry to say, is that disgusting.

Bright green is Mountain Dew’s color. It’s also the color of the outdoors, the color of open fields and tall trees and mountainsides. It’s the color of limes, which jazz up the flavor. And it’s this dazzling color which adorns the Doritos bag alongside the familiar sight of pale yellow corn chips.

But, dull green is the color of mold, and once you open the bag that’s all you will see – a sickly green organism crawling along the exterior of the chip, infesting it. Our palates have trained our eyes to desire those lucky few corn chips imbued with a glorious excess of orange, artificial nacho cheese flavoring. My eyes recoiled at the sight of that same chip lacquered with Dew.

Perhaps the taste, I thought, would make up for it’s unsightly appearance. I popped it into my mouth, making sure the side with the most flavor made contact with my tongue, and was immediately confused. This was not Mountain Dew. There was no tang. No zip. It was as if someone had ripped open a dirty green Pixy Stick and dumped it on top of a corn chip.

Turning the bag over, I found sugar listed prominently in third place among the ingredients.

I tried another one. Perhaps, I thought, like fine wine, one’s taste buds must be sufficiently primed to grasp the nuances. Half a dozen chips in, I came to the conclusion that this, if anything, had the opposite effect. The more I ate the worse they tasted.

I handed one to my partner, thinking she might get whatever it was I was missing. A crooked smile graced her lips and she used the word “interesting,” which I well know is a euphemism for, “what the hell was that?”

For the next few minutes we took turns looking at the bag, snaking a hand in to retrieve a chip, holding it up to the light, and turning it over and over before depositing it in our mouths. At some point, with the bag still half-full, she looked at me and shrugged.

“Do you want the rest?”

“Not really.”

“Me, neither.”

She scooped the bag off the kitchen counter and deposited it in the trash.

I opened the fridge and pulled out a Coke, wondering if I might be, at long last, too old.

Plucking the bag out of the trash I defiantly tried one more, willing myself into a twelve-year-old state of mind.

Nope. They still sucked.

Want to recapture a bit of your youth? Watch re-runs of The Munsters. Quarantine the Mountain Dew Energized Doritos on the shelf, and leave them there.

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