A tribute to Johnson City’s history and claim to fame has been bottled, packaged and is now available at local gas stations and grocery stores.
Johnson City Gold started to hit store shelves on Monday, and will continue to be distributed to Roadrunner Markets and Food City stores over the next couple of weeks.
The new drink is a non-alcoholic malted version of Mountain Dew. The beverage will only be sold for a limited time as part of a test run in select cities around the country. Roadrunner Markets and Food City stores will be the only two retail outlets that will sell Johnson City Gold in the area.
“This is another unique extension to the Mountain Dew brand,” said Tim Swecker, unit sales manager for Pepsi Beverages Co. “I hope everybody tries it.”
The taste of the drink is unique. Johnson City Gold tastes like a mixture of beer, ginger ale and Mountain Dew.
The malt process mellows out the sugary flavor of regular Mountain Dew, Swecker said.
The only store that was selling Johnson City Gold on Monday was Roadrunner Market in Boones Creek. The drink should be in all Roadrunner markets by Wednesday, according to John Kelly, vice president of operations for Mountain Empire Oil
The drink will be only available in one liter and 24 ounce bottles. Roadrunner Markets will sell only the one liter bottles, while Food City will sell six packs and individual bottles.
“Only the stores in the Johnson City Pepsi market will receive the drink,” Kelly said. “It’s kind of neat that Johnson City has a drink named after it.”
The Johnson City Pepsi market covers stores in Johnson City, Kingsport, Piney Flats, Gray, Jonesborough, Erwin, Bluff City and Elizabethton. There will be displays set up in the stores, Kelly said.
The reason only two retail stores are selling the drink is because of the limited quantity. Pepsi has 1,200 cases of the one liter bottles and around 700 cases of the 24 ounce bottles, Swecker said.
Roadrunner Markets and Food City were also picked because the stores wanted to sell the product in the area.
“Those two retailers came to us on the first bit of news and said, ’Hey, we want to be involved in this with you,’” Swecker said. “It’s a lot easier for us to activate on a local level, where the chains are based here in the area, than it is to a national chain.”
Swecker also credits the strong relationship Pepsi has with Roadrunner and Food City in Johnson City. Kelly also credits the strong relationship with Pepsi as one of the reasons Roadrunner Markets wanted to sell Johnson City Gold.
The drink is one of many extensions for Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew has also had extensions such as Code Red, White Out and Dark Berry. There are no plans for a second batch of Johnson City Gold right now, but if the drink tests well it could become a national drink, Swecker said.
The drink was named for its gold tint and Mountain Dew’s connection to the Johnson City area. Johnson City is believed to be the birthplace of Mountain Dew, although three other cities claim to have created the drink, including Knoxville, Marion, Va., and Lumberton, N.C.
“Four cities claim to have created Mountain Dew,” Kelly said. “I guess this settles the debate.”