What was Pepsi thinking? Well, they want to attack the energy drink market that consumers (like myself) use to stay awake… or wake up in the morning. They consider Mountain Dew Kickstart a healthier choice than your typical energy drinks — Rockstar, Amp, Monster, or Red Bull — and hoped that it would prove more popular for its differences.
Mountain Dew Kickstart is not an energy drink in the general sense… it’s more of a morning booster shot. Most energy drink companies load their products with sugar, vitamins, taurine, ginseng, and other words I cannot pronounce. Kickstart includes only 20 grams of sugar, a high level of caffeine, 5% real fruit juice, vitamin c and b. The biggest difference between Kickstart and other 16oz energy drinks is the serving size: one serving of Kickstart is the whole can. Other 16oz energy drinks have two servings in the one can.
The 92 mg of caffeine in the Mountain Dew Kickstart is lackluster compared to the 240 mg of caffeine in a Rockstar. Caffeine isn’t the only ingredient that matters in an energy drink, but Kickstart has less caffeine than a single cup of coffee… that is not promising. Most energy drinks include vitamins, so I’m struggling to find what niche Kickstart will fill in the energy market. Its only claim to fame is a low level of sugar — 20 grams versus 66 grams in a 16oz Rockstar — but a sugar free Rockstar has no sugar, plenty of vitamins and will certainly jump start your day with higher dose of awesome.
We’ve bashed Mountain Dew Kickstart and its ability to wake you up, but how does it taste? Simply: not great. There are currently two flavors: orange citrus and fruit punch. I compare them to diet versions of Mountain Dew Live Wire (limited flavor) and Mountain Dew Code Red. Neither flavor tastes great… most sugar free drinks have more flavor.
It seems like Pepsi missed the point with this drink. Yes, a healthier alternative for morning energy is certainly welcome… but I don’t think Mountain Dew Kickstart understands what that looks like. If you like diet soda in the morning, then Kickstart may work for you. I’ll stick to the sugar free options available from other brands like Rockstar and NOS — they taste much better than Kickstart.