My Favorite Drink “Mello Yello”: The story of stuggle, tenacity, and exceptional quality
While it is true that I have a passion for many things, what I put into my body is of paramount significance. In this day and age of many types of foods and drink there are many varieties, however, when it comes to beverages there are really only three that I consume, water, milk, and the soft drink Mello Yello.
I have a very long and complicated theory that I’ve entertained for years which states simply that people who tend to like the soft drink products of Pepsi tend to be the same type of people who are currently in the “OCCUPY” movement. They are as the marketing campaigns state, part of “the next generation.” They are the leftists, the Marxists, the socialism advocates of our society in general. People who enjoy Coca Cola tend to be more conservative, enjoy tradition, and lean-to the right of the political spectrum. So I have always enjoyed Coke over Pepsi. It has a bit more bite to its taste and I like the marketing of the product so much more than the hippie diatribes of Pepsi.
My life, especially during the 70’s and 80’s was often said to be a living Mountain Dew commercial, which if you remember back, was always action packed. Mountain Dew was marketed as an adventurous drink, so their commercials always had people doing daredevil like stunts, which was intended to be a compliment to me. The problem was Mountain Dew was made by the Pepsi Company, which I had even back then wrote off as a company that pandered to hippies. So when the Coca Cola Company came out with Mello Yello to compete head to head with Mountain Dew, I naturally took to that beverage as my choice. I enjoyed the citrus drinks better than the caramel tasting colas, so Mello Yello was an instant hit with me which started as a rebellion against Mountain Dew and everyone trying to push me toward it because of my lifestyle being so similar to the marketing campaign of the Pepsi Company.
Mello Yello made great strides to overtake Mountain Dew all through the Reagan presidency culminating in its use as a sponsor in the Tom Cruise classic film Days of Thunder which captured two of my favorite things, Mello Yello and my need for speed in the same movie directed by the great Tony Scott, Ridley Scott’s brother. (Much more on Ridley Scott later—as I am absolutely drooling to see his new film PROMETHIUS) Because of Mello Yello’s appearance in Days of Thunder, and the fact that Coca Cola is a powerful company in Atlanta, Georgia, NASCAR and the South in general have embraced Mello Yello and never let go all through the Clinton years of the 90’s. But up north, Mello Yello phased out losing ground to Mountain Dew and it began to become difficult to get.
Coca Cola had failed even with all their efforts to penetrate the Mountain Dew market and began to rethink their drink. In the northern United States they completely pulled Mello Yello off the shelves and replaced it with a drink called Surge, which was the prototype of the modern energy drink. So I moved to Surge rather than Mountain Dew just out of sheer protest, but I missed my favorite drink, Mello Yello badly.
Surge sales never really got off the ground so slowly Mello Yello was reintroduced and the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A began to carry it in their stores as they started to move into more free-standing buildings as opposed to just shopping mall food courts. This was much to my delight because I travel a lot through the south and whenever I found myself driving to Florida I made a point to stop at the Chick-fil-A in Dalton, Georgia for breakfast just so I could get Mello Yello in a fountain drink. I had always liked Chick-fil-A as a business also, but now my loyalty to them was full-proof. It is because of this loyalty that Chick-fil-A plays such a prominent role in my upcoming novel Tail of the Dragon, as a tribute, and thanks to them for keeping my favorite drink, Mello Yello alive in the south.
Right around the turn-of-the-century Mello Yello was showing up at gas stations all over the southern states, so I’d buy up what I could to take home with me for my private supply, because you just couldn’t get it in Ohio. Eventually my wife met an Indian family who ran a convenient store and they promised her that they could import Mello Yello for me to my home in Liberty Twp so long as we bought just from them.
This went on for a number of years before Walmart, and Kroger began to stock it again, as Mello Yello had moved back into the market in the north. Thankfully I can now get Mello Yello just about anywhere I go. To this very day I have one every day for breakfast and it is a pleasure every time I pop the top of a can to drink one. It is one of the few beverages that I truly enjoy. Of course I like the taste, and it is a product of my youth as it came on the market during that impressionable time, but now for me it’s a symbol of perseverance, and a reminder that if something can stick around long enough, that it always has a chance to re-emerge, even if a competing idea tries to crush it out of existence.
Many times since its beginning Mello Yello was on the ropes and ready to be pulled off the market as Coke executives were frustrated with their efforts to overtake Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew was so entrenched with the youth in America because of their successful marketing campaigns that Mello Yello even with the movie endorsements and clever ads of their own could not get a steady foot in the market. But I never gave up on Mello Yello, and at times I think I may have been the only one in all of Cincinnati that was drinking it. But it stuck around, and now it’s back and can be found almost as readily as the other soft drinks.
Like most things in my life, I am very particular about what I like and don’t like. I am not one to compromise, so when Mello Yello was not available at my local store, I drove south to get it, or found someone who would ship it in for me. But I did not go to Mountain Dew just because it was convenient or similar in taste. I avoided it out of rebellion and went to great expense to obtain my chosen alternative, primarily because I viewed the Pepsi Company as the company of The New Generation. I like the Coca Cola Company because of their old-fashioned, traditional ads, their Christmas campaigns in particular, their ability to capture markets like McDonalds, and Chick-fil-A, and I like their sponsorship in events like NASCAR. As a company I think they are world-class, and I stood by their product Mello Yello even in the hardest of times out of sheer loyalty. But every day I enjoy at least one Mello Yello and I am very thankful that I can, because it was not always easy to get. It’s always been worth it, because to me, every one of them is special, made more so due to the struggle just to survive in a market place that has been very competitive.