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New claim to fame: Drink to be named for Johnson City

Jennifer Sprouse • Jul 13, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Through the years, Johnson City has been mentioned in books and sung about by musicians like Old Crow Medicine Show and Travis Tritt. But, the city will soon have a new claim to fame for being part of a brand name for PepsiCo’s new product that is expected to make a trial run in local markets next month.

According to Friday’s Beverage Digest newsletter, Pepsi will be testing a new drink — “Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold” — from August through October.

Tim Swecker, unit sales manager for Pepsi Beverages Co. in Johnson City, said he was excited to hear about the drink while attending a meeting in Tampa, Fla., last March.

“I think it’s going to be ... really good,” Swecker said. “We’ve got about a month before it’ll be out in the market, but I’m really excited about it. It’s a great tribute to Johnson City that they think of this as their hometown.”

He said the Mountain Dew product has always been known to test out new flavors, such as Code Red and White Out, and said this new flavor is definitely something new.

“The Johnson City Gold is just a continuation of that,” Swecker said. “It’s got like a malt flavor to it. Mountain Dew with a little bit of malt.”

The test-run of the beverage will begin in August and Swecker said it will be pushed hard in the Tennessee markets, as well as some from out of state.

“Mostly it’ll be in convenience and smaller-format stores, but we probably will have it ... in a lot more outlets than we normally do,” he said.

Beverage Digest said Johnson City Gold will be packaged and sold in 16-ounce cans, as well as in 1-liter and 24-ounce multipacks. Along with the Johnson City market, the soda will also be distributed in Kroger stores in the Midwest, and 7-Eleven stores in Charlotte, N.C., and Denver.

Swecker said the new non-alcoholic malted soda was named for its gold tint and given the city name to symbolize the birthplace of the beverage. He also mentioned that other places have claimed to have a part in the creation of the drink.

“There’s always been some kind of discrepancy, whether it was Marion, Va., Knoxville or Johnson City,” Swecker said.

A 2007 article published in the Johnson City Press explored the creation of Mountain Dew, the brand name and even the highly commercialized formula that was rumored to have ties to the three cities, as well as Lumberton, N.C.

The article mentioned a book by Johnson City native Dick Bridgforth titled “Mountain Dew: The History,” which told how Dick’s father, Bill, is credited with the creation of the formula that many drink today. According to the article, Bridgforth’s formula was first placed into the notable hillbilly Mountain Dew bottle in 1960.

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