My Early Love Affair With "Mountain Dew"
Writer's note: To Matt, Camille and Christi, HubPages editors: this hub is not about "me" selling, endorsing, or coercing my followers or those new to HubPages to buy any of the products listed in this piece. This is simply my first-person account of when Mountain Dew and I first met. Thanks, Kenneth
The chance encounter
It's both amazing and funny how life reaches up and grabs you by the shirt collar when you are relaxing from some labor you've performed and frankly, you never really wanted to learn anything. Life sometimes just takes charge. This is one of those times for me.
I remember it well. It was the summer of 1966. School was out for the summer and I had to stay alone seeing that both my parents had to work. I was riding my red bicycle (with plenty of factory chrome) heading to my favorite place on earth: Henry Stidham's store which was located less than a quarter-mile from our home. I spent a lot of time at Stidham's store for this was the meeting place for my pals and I to hang out, be lazy, and talk of huge, unimaginable dreams when we got out of school, but mostly we talked about what girls we had seen on our bus or at school who actually smiled at us.
I had fallen in love with a real celebrity
I wasn't prepared for what lie ahead
For a long day of doing nothing but riding my bike, maybe talking a bit with Kenny Pikington or Rick Stidham and that be it. Hey, I had a television-watching ritual that no one could interrupt. Seemingly I just had to watch certain shows or my day was not in sync with the forces of the universe unless I watched those certain television programs.
I had a dime in my right jeans pocket. Why? I do not know. Maybe I had forgotten that my dad had given me the dime earlier and my mind was so full of important things like any soon-to-be junior high school student so I did not have time to remember every little detail of each day of my life. But I loved the feeling of having "some" form of money and that made me feel taller, confident, and more like a man.
"Ken, get to the drank box," Mr. Henry Stidham barked. His sudden orders stunned me for usually he was busy doing stock inventory or other country store tasks.
"What's up?" I asked walking toward the long drink box with two aluminum doors on top.
"Ye' gotta try that new Mountain Dew I got in this morning," Stidham advised with excitement filling each word.
Upon opening the drink box, there it was. That trademark green bottle with the hillbilly artwork on the label. Mountain Dew. Little did I know that when my lips touched my first sip of this new, radical soft drink that life would change for me.
"Hey, this is great stuff," I exclaimed to Mr. Stidham who was now sporting a beaming smile. This meant that he had made the right call in buying the neighborhood's first supply of Mountain Dew.
I kid you not. That one soft drink sold as fast as the drink supply trucks could deliver it to Stidham's store. I think that Mr. Stidham was the happiest at that time in his life to see one of his products make him a little richer even if it were one dime at a time.
Other "soft drink sirens" got into the act. Some, like this one, had folk song style of singing
Were you among the first to enjoy Mountain Dew when it was introduced in 1966?
Mountain Dew really changed me
The crisp, cold lemon taste of this soda would hit my taste buds right away. But after my sixth drink of that week, I felt guilty at leaving my former favorite, RC Cola, sitting in the cooler looking lonely and I swear I could hear its small voice saying, "Pleeeaassee, Ken! Buy me today. Pleeease?" This is the first time that I have ever told anyone that soft drinks talked to me at that time in my life.
How Mountain Dew changed me was just holding one of these drinks in my hand made me feel not as poor as I did before Mountain Dew came along. Please don't give me any sympathy. I didn't mind being poor that much as long as richer people around me didn't act so lofty and aloof when I was in the area.
I owe Mountain Dew a lot. Another thing I did when I had a dime to spend on a Mountain Dew was drink it as slowly as possible. I did not know the next time when my dad would give me a dime. This not getting my hopes up taught me to savor each blessing and gift that came to me. And never take anything or anyone for granted.
I loved the commercials for Mountain Dew
(See the video at top of this hub about the first commercial for Mountain Dew). This was the one that I grew up with. When I downloaded it, talk about old memories of my neighborhood, my red bike with factory chrome and pals, Kenny Pilkington, Rick Stidham and Mr. Henry Stidham, the one responsible for introducing me to Mountain Dew.
Mountain Dew and I were so happy together. We loved each other and did not try to change each other. Life, as some later would say, was good. Mountain Dew and I walked drink-in-hand through the summer days and I thought that things would never change. I hate change. Sudden change irritates me. I just wish that I could be given a little time to prepare.
But something "evil" was afoot
And it was not good either. As the years went by, my love for Mountain Dew grew stronger. Oh, sure I would enjoy an occasional "fling" with my RC Cola, original Coca Cola and maybe a Tab once in a blue moon. Tab, like Mountain Dew, was owed and produced by the Coca Cola Co., and was billed as a diet drink. I believed the ads with the first one I drank. It had a bitter taste. No fun to drink at all. I said a quick goodbye to Tab not long after I sipped it on a lonely fall afternoon in the late 1960's.
Before I knew it, the big soft drink supply trucks were hauling Mountain Dew, Coca Cola and other competitive soda brands in aluminum cans. Huh? I thought that only beer was stored in aluminum cans. I was wrong. With a moderate price bump and a quick popping of the top on the can, I was fool enough to think that the Mountain Dew inside would taste as good as the drink in the green bottle. Nope. Na Da. ("Warning, young Will Robinson!", robot on "Lost in Space) Times were changing and this was before Bob Dylan made his bucks from a song by the same name.
I hated soda in the aluminum can. It was like dressing a glamorous movie doll like Ava Gardner in an off-the-rack polka dot dress as opposed to dressing her in one of her glitzy evening gowns. The change was not easy for me to deal with.
The next wave of soft drink changes did it for me
Just as I thought I might give my favorite brands of soda a chance and yes, even thought they came in aluminum cans, Coca Cola, Pepsi and other competitive soda conglomerates did the unthinkable. They introduced their products in a two-liter plastic bottle. I thought I was about to have my life pass before my eyes. First the aluminum cans and now the two-liter plastic bottle. And even today, no one around my hometown knows exactly how much a "liter" measures in regard to soft drinks.
My love for Mountain Dew as well as my other soda favorites faded with time. The changes were just too much for me. I know that my love, Mountain Dew had to have "her" space to grow as a soft drink and to explore her true "soda-hood," so I stepped aside to allow "her" to do just that.
Oh, we would see each other occasionally, but we both knew that things would never be like they were in that summer of 1965 at the soft drink cooler in Mr. Henry Stidham's store. But we left as friends and no grudges held.
I moved on and found my new "love
As I had played the fool in chasing my flashy Mountain Dew and other drinks, my other "love" had been sitting right in front of me. My dad or mom would brew themselves a cup of hot, black coffee each morning that God gave them. The coffee did smell good and the aroma was alluring as it brewed in the percolator sitting on our dining room table with the cord plugged into a wall outlet.
I took my first sip of hot black coffee on a Sunday morning at our family breakfast time. This was in 1967. I was instantly in love with this exciting new drink that really gave me a lift for my days.
One time as I was enjoying a cup of hot black coffee by myself, my thoughts began to form and I remember well the first thought I had of this exciting new adventure of drinking coffee: "now there is no way that coffee manufacturers can ever change this product."
Not long from that thought, I was devastated when I was watching "Batman," with Adam West and Burt Ward on ABC, and a commercial came on with Joe DiMaggio, the "Yankee Clipper," "dressed to the nines," talking about some new "flash in the pan" invention called "Mr. Coffee."
And that is as far as I want to go.
Good night, Bangor, Maine.
© 2016 Kenneth Avery