Mello Yello Versus Mountain Dew

Do you do the Dew or follow the Mello? These two citrus-flavored soft drinks from PepsiCo and Coca-Cola respectively are quite similar in taste, color, and caffeine content but one greatly outsells the other. Here's how they compare.

Mello Yello

Mello Yello was introduced by the Coca-Cola Company in 1979 to compete with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew. Both soft drinks are citrus-flavored, yellow-colored, and have a relatively high caffeine content. The name Mello Yello reportedly came from a 1967 Donovan album that had a single entitled Mello Yello. A cover of the song is used to promote the drink.

Mello Yello is only sold in certain regions of the United States primarily in the Midwest and Southeast with recent expansion into the Northeast and western U.S. Efforts to launch the product overseas, particularly in New Zealand, were not very successful. Mello Yello is one of the few Coca-Cola drinks to be outsold by a competing Pepsi product.

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew was created in the 1940s by two Tennessee beverage bottlers, Barney and Ally Hartman, who named the drink after a colloquial term for moonshine. The PepsiCo company purchased the Mountain Dew brand and production rights in 1964.

Mountain Dew's primary market is the U.S. where it had a nearly 7 percent share of the overall carbonated soft drink market in 2010 and an 80 percent share of citrus soft drinks. It has a sizable lead over the competition which includes Mello Yello, Sun Drop, and Vault.


The Mello Yello ingredients are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, carob bean gum, erythorbic acid and EDTA, potassium citrate, caffeine, and yellow 5.

In the U.S., the Mountain Dew ingredients are carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, caffeine, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid, gum arabic, calcium disodium EDTA, brominated vegetable oil, and yellow 5.


A 12-ounce can of Mello Yello contains 53 mg caffeine - nearly identical to Mountain Dew. The diet version of Mello Yello has slightly less caffeine - 51 mg. For comparison, a can of Coke has 38 mg caffeine.

A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains 54 mg caffeine. With the exception of Caffeine Free Mountain Dew, the same applies to the various other types of Mountain Dew including the diet versions.

Taste Preference

Mello Yello advertisements describe the drink as "smooth and mellow". In contrast, Mountain Dew advertising seems to target a younger, more energetic audience that enjoys activities such as skateboarding, video games, and jumping off a rope swing into a river.

Some old-time Mountain Dew drinkers have been known to complain that the drink sold now is a wimpy shell of its former self. They claim that in a bid to regain market share lost to Mello Yello, Mountain Dew's response was to reduce the carbonation and caffeine resulting in a syrupy drink with less kick.