May 12, 2009

Finally (and a personal note about store brands)

Diet Mountain Lightning!Before I started drinking diet soda, I was an avid drinker of (regular-full strength) Mountain Dew. That could get expensive though, so I started drinking the Sam's Choice Mountain Lighting.

When I finally switched to diet, I kept hoping that they would come out with a diet version of the Mountain Lightning. 10 yrs. later it is finally here. Now, maybe it has been around for longer than this, but this is the first time that I have seen it. And I am pretty sure that I check every time I go to Wal-Mart.

But, before I finish this post, I would like to share a little insight into the purchasing of "generic" beverages.

My first real encounter with the ins and outs of the world of generic came when I used to work at a cheese packaging plant in Crawfordsville, IN. It was there that I watched them take one huge block of cheese and as they began to slice it down and I watched it get packaged, I noticed that from the same block of cheese we would change the roll of plastic packaging material several different times. Once I got "promoted" to the end of the line to fill and stack the boxes of cheese, I learned the real truth. From one block of cheddar (or whatever the kind of cheese of the day was) we would package every brand of cheese that was put out of that plant. From the most expensive brand to the plain label brand, it all came from the same block of cheese. At the time that I worked there, there were over 20 brands of cheese that were packaged by that plant.

Another example... directly related to the Mountain Lightning. At one of the Distribution centers that I worked at, I talked to a truck driver that delivered soda. He told me that he used to deliver Sam's Choice. He said that the interesting thing about it is that sometimes it was bottled by Coca-Cola and sometimes it was bottled by Pepsi-Cola. Obviously the formula remains the same for whoever bottles it, but the company that put in the lowest bid was the one who bottled it for a certain amount of time.

The important thing to remember is that the quality remains the same. Sure, it might taste different , but that is the formula, it isn't because anything has and greater value. You truly are paying for the name.

One final example.

When I was working at the Target Distribution center, in Oconomowac, WI, I spent half of my time there as a receiver. In other words, I helped unload the trucks that were bringing products in from all over the world. We would then sort the different items out to their proper departments, to eventually make it onto a conveyor and into a truck that delivers it to a store. I would love to tell you about that process, but it would bore you to death.

Well, while I was there, I can remember unloading overseas shipping crates that were fresh in from China. One time that sticks out in my mind is when I unloaded a shipment from a sewing company. The whole crate was from the same sewing company. Are you ready for the interesting part? It was a whole shipment of jeans. Every brand of jeans that Target sells. They all came from the same sewing company!

I could give other examples, but I have digressed off of my excitement about the Diet Mountain Lightning.


  1. Thanks, Matt! That is a really interesting insight into the world of generics!

  2. I was hoping that somebody would gain something out of that!

  3. I too have waited forever for the Diet Mountain Lightning version. Honestly I prefer it over Diet Mountain Dew. Also, my husband worked for Sara Lee Bakery. Just as you were describing the process with the is the same with bread, which is why I don't mind buying the generic bread at Wal-Mart. Mind you, not all Wal-mart bread is Sara Lee. It too is done on a bidding process.

  4. That is awesome about the bread. I had no idea! I guess it makes sense.

    Well, I am glad for another diet mountain lightning fan!

  5. I spotted my 1st bottle of Diet Mountain Lightning in the Columbus, GA Walmart on the north side of town and bought it. I can't tell it apart from Kroger's Diet Citrus Drop or Winn-Dixie's Diet Kountry Mist, though I can tell a difference from their corn syrup cousins especially Mountain Lighting which is a bit too clear. Best generic out there is Kroger's which were on sell at 50 cents a bottle with their card.

  6. Diet Mountain Lightning has to be new. I've looked for it in Walmart for years and until tonight never found it. We live in Opelika, AL and we're down in Columbus, GA and I found it their north side location. Personally, their diet version taste identical to Kroger's Diet Citrus Drop and Winn-Dixie's Diet Kountry Mist. Their corn syrup cousins, Mountain Lightning still isn't quite up to par with Krogers and Winn-Dixie versions. I am curious as to whether this is Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain dew but rebottled and packaged for these stores. I had always assumed the formulas that make these sodas were more top secret than the US nuclear missile codes.


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