When did consumer giants with a strong brand start taking the unprecedented step of putting out a product for a certain period of time only to bring it back only to take it away only to bring it back, ad infinitum? Used to be if a product was a success, a big company would not dare to remove it from store shelves. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder in the world of advertising and big business. For that matter, when did big American conglomerates with a global reach start putting products on store shelves without advertising it?
The story of Mountain Dew Throwback and its curiously erratic appearances in consumer outlets appears to be a new strategy in the world of mass produced carbonated beverages. Or is it?
Mountain Dew Throwback is sweetened with pure cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. The Throwback part of Mountain Dew Throwback is related to the idea that cane sugar sweetened Mountain Dew tastes more like the original Mountain Dew marketed as a drink made by and for hillbillies rather than today’s Mountain Dew made by Pepsi for extreme sports enthusiasts. Those who remember the taste of the original Mountain Dew when it came in bottles rode a wave of nostalgia over their tastes buds as Throwback created a relatively authentic simulation to the experience of drinking that citrusy soft drink that was mandatory in every store in Dixie in the 1960s. Relatively authentic because a few concessions were made to keeping Mountain Dew Throwback tasting relatively close to the high fructose corn syrup sweetened version known and loved by shredders across America. Plus, and I’m going purely on years and years of anecdotal evidence here, no drink from a can simulate with completely authenticity the taste of a soft drink consumed from bottle.
Still, there is enough nostalgic simulation in Mountain Drew Throwback and more than enough differentiation from the corn syrup confection it has become to allow me to conduct my own private taste tests between Throwback and Mtn. Dew to immediately know the difference. Heaven, I says. Heaven was I while Mountain Dew Throwback was found on store shelves. Even though they were not found on every store shelf where the Pepsi product is sold. Indeed, within a five mile radius of my house, I could track down Mountain Dew Throwback, at any given time, in less than a dozen stores. And with the release of “The Dark Knight Rises” that pittance of availability froze to absolute zero.
As of the date of this writing-August 21, 2012-there is not a single store in my hometown that sells Mountain Dew Throwback. However, you can find a number of stores sell a Dark Berry tie-in to “The Dark Knight Rises.” Sweetened, alas, with high fructose corn syrup. The disappearance of Throwback from store shelves in concert with a limited time release of a new flavor would be okay if it weren’t for the fact that this is not the first time that Throwback has disappeared.
In fact, I can recall at least three or four other occasions since Pepsi decided to transfer the status of Throwback from a limited time flavor to a permanent part of the Mountain Dew lineup of sodas that it has completely disappeared from shelves. If not a regular occurrence exactly, it is at least an irregularly occurring inconvenience. Making matters even worse is that I have never-not even once-seen a TV commercial for Throwback. And I watch a lot of older stuff that would be a natural show for Pepsi to choose as an appropriate demographic to which Throwback would be effectively marketed. My point being that perhaps if Pepsi started advertising on TV Land, MeTV, local station reruns of TV shows from the 1960s and such, there might be such an increased market and sales potential for Throwback that removing it from store shelves would be counterproductive.
In the meantime, I have just one question. Mr. Pepsi person with the nice Mountain Dew account, when do you think you might start returning Throwback to store shelves?