You can have the best gadgets and fanny-friendly furniture available, but your gamer lounge is only useful so long as you’re able to stay awake over the long gaming marathons that will undoubtedly take place in it. There are some people who can stay up long after I’ve fallen into sleep’s warm embrace. These individuals are the ones who would, at sleepovers, draw on your face or place your hand in a cup of warm water. Then there are the ones who rely on quick doses of caffeine from sodas or the body boosting powers of energy drinks to stay awake when their bodies are threatening to fail them, to leave them defenseless against their still awake peers.
I fall into the latter category, and I have pictures of a younger me with felt tip penises and Hitler mustaches marked on my sleeping face to prove it. Before I discovered the Epinephrine-like powers of Amp and Monster, I relied solely on a single drink to keep me alert over late night playthroughs of Resident Evil 4 and Halo 2. This drink was Mountain Dew. But this article isn’t just telling you to stock your fridge with Dews, instead we’re going to take a long hard look at my all-time favorite soda ever. Nay, that doesn’t fully cover it: this isn’t just a tasty beverage, it’s quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. And it’s a pleasure you can’t easily find. There have been a plethora of Mountain Dew flavors that have come and gone, some you might recognize, others you might not. There are mainstays like Code Red, a cherry fan’s wet dream, and the orange injected Livewire, that always makes me think for summer. Then there are the rarer Dews, like the Taco Bell exclusive Baja Blast and the various Game Fuel flavors that promoted Halo 3 and World of Warcraft. Then there’s the darker Dew. A Dew with an attitude. A Dew that if you saw it out late at night you would cross the street just to keep from having to look into its cold, hard stare. I’m talking of course, about Mountain Dew Pitch Black.
Originally launched way back in 2004, before any of us had traversed the empty, broken halls of Rapture, or the bloodied corridors of the USG Ishimura, we were introduced to something far more terrifying than a Big Daddy. Pitch Black was an homage to my favorite holiday, Halloween, and though my first affair with the drink was brief, it was oh so memorable. Pitch Black’s short time on shelves was like having a quick fling with the person of your dreams, only to have them suddenly disappear.
Then, just as you’re starting to get over them they return, more amazing than you remember (if you’re confused, this would be Pitch Black II, the sour “sequel” that released the following year). You have a few more months with them, just enough time to fall back in love, before they leave again, never to be heard from again.
Well, not for six years at least. Over the years the memories of your time with them have faded but never completely dissolved. You remember the good times, because you’ve since tried to forget about their leaving so suddenly and the weeks that followed where you spent most of your time balled up on the floor of your dark room sobbing violently, wondering if they’ll ever return. Then you see it, on Facebook no less, that they’re coming back. Again, it’s for a limited time, but you can’t be angry because at least they’re coming back, right?
Alright, brace yourself, because I’m dropping the analogy.
Back in January I was notified by a friend who helped me during those dark times after Pitch Black first left me that it was finally coming back. Usually, I would ignore such a comment, dismissing it as improbable, but this same person had helped me when I needed them the most. They were there for me when I was suffering from the shakes, sweats, and incoherent mumbling that are the common signs of Pitch Black withdrawal. It didn’t take long to confirm the soda was indeed being brought back thanks to Mountain Dew’s “Back by Popular DEWmand” campaign.
What a genius idea. Bring your community together, a group that’s more vocal than say, Charmin Ultra’s community (thought a clean bum is very important kids), and have them vote on discontinued flavors so the top picks can be brought back for a limited run. Whoever thought of that will forever be one of my many heroes, right up there with Isaac Clarke and that one guy who said “Hey guys, maybe we should just let Duke Nukem die?” Sadly, no one listened to him, but at least someone paid close attention to the other guy’s idea. Once the dust had settled, there were three winners: Pitch Black, Supernova, and Typhoon.
Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to try the other two flavors (I blame it on my inability to find anything but the permanent Dew flavors near me), but Supernova is supposed to be a fusion of strawberry and melon (yum), and Typhoon is all about the strawberry and the pineapple. But this isn’t necessarily about this strawberry infused Dewo (HA! Get it? Dew-o? Like Duo? God I’m clever), this is about Mountain Dew Pitch Black.
For the uninitiated, I’ll explain Pitch Black as I would if I were writing its Baby Factor in a game review. Essentially, it’s what would happen if Mountain Dew got together with grape soda and a little bit of sweet, Halloween love, for a steamy night of soda on soda action. I’m going to lean in a little closer so it’s easier for me to coo this softly in your ear: it’s Mountain Dew, with some Black Grape, and a little bit of Halloween thrown in. I’ll give you a minute to wipe yourself off.
Now, if you look at the label, it says it’s been infused with Black Grape. What is this Black Grape, because I’d very much like to plant some Black Grape seeds in my yard so I can grow these tasty motherfuckers all year long. I’ve always been a fan of grape soda, so the lovechild of Mountain Dew and one of my favorite soda flavors was bound to be a hit with me. The fact that it was a limited edition, Halloween branded anything pretty much sealed the deal right away.
So that, as they say, is that. I could talk about how strange it felt to be drinking what I still consider to be a Halloween drink in the midst of summer but I won’t because it came back. Now that it’s gone and I’m beginning to feel the all too familiar shakes and sweats returning, I can only hope that it will return again. Not many people can say they got to have the love of their life long after they thought they were dead. But now, thanks to DEWmocracy, the thing this country of ours was built on, I can say that I did.
And to Pitch Black: if you’re reading this, come home. Daddy wants his purple baby back.
I’d also like to thank Mountain Dew for hearing my pleas and sending me a couple bottles of Pitch Black, which I quickly emptied and placed atop my mantle like the stuffed head of an animal I just conquered.