Are you a soda fan? If you’re like most soda drinkers, you probably have your beverage of choice. Maybe you chose it because of the flavor, the ingredients, or its perceived impact on your health. Some soda drinkers prefer citrusy pop for all of the above reasons, but there’s something that may surprise you — drinks like Mello Yello often don’t differ very much from caramel-colored brown sodas.
What is Mello Yello?
Mello Yello is the Coca-Cola company’s answer to PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew. It was introduced in 1979, and can now be found regionally in the United States. Like Mountain Dew, it’s yellow, citrusy, and fairly high in caffeine.
The Mello Yello line has expanded to include an artificially sweetened version, as well as special limited-release flavors like a peach. Some of these flavors (notably Mello Yello Cherry, Mello Yello Peach, Mello Yello Orange, and Mello Yello Limeade) are available in Coca-Cola Freestyle fountains.
What does the original Mello Yello taste like?
Mello Yello is described as having a smooth, refreshing citrus taste. This comes from concentrated orange juice and a bouquet of natural flavors. The natural flavors keep it from being a purely orange soda, while the orange juice keeps it from being lemon-lime. The result is a very sweet, balanced citrusy flavor.
How do Mello Yello’s ingredients compare to other sodas on the market?
According to the brand’s website, Mello Yello’s ingredients are Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, calcium disodium EDTA, potassium citrate, caffeine, yellow #5, and carob bean gum. Carbonated water forms the bulk of the beverage, high fructose corn syrup provides sweetness, concentrated orange juice, and natural flavors give it its distinctive flavor, and the remaining ingredients are colorants, preservatives, and thickeners.
All of these are pretty standard for beverages of this type — for example, the only differences between Mello Yello and Mountain Dew are that Mountain Dew replaced high fructose corn syrup with sugar, and uses brominated vegetable oil, gum arabic, and erythorbic acid.
How much caffeine is in Mello Yello?
When most people think of a caffeinated soda, they probably think of brown sodas like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. The inclusion of caffeine in Mello Yello’s ingredient list might even come as a bit of a surprise.
All told, a 12-ounce can of Mello Yello provides about 53 milligrams of caffeine. Mello Yello Zero, a zero-calorie, artificially sweetened version, contains 51 mg. By comparison, Mountain Dew contains roughly 54 mg. Other sodas vary widely in their caffeine content. Vault Zero provides as much as 74 mg, while some store-brand caffeinated sodas may have as little as 5 mg.
How does Mello Yello compare to naturally caffeinated beverages?
When it comes to non-soda options, Mello Yello has more caffeine than green or white teas, but less than black tea and coffee. A cup of green tea can have as little as 12 mg, while coffee clocks in at between 80-175 mg.
Is the caffeine in Mello Yello different from the caffeine in coffee or tea?
In terms of getting a caffeine buzz, there isn’t a huge difference between imbibing it in soda, coffee, or tea. The main differences come from all of the other ingredients.
If you need a caffeine hit now and then, a non-soda beverage may be a healthier choice. Tea and coffee both contain antioxidants and are naturally very low in calories. While the ingredients used in Mello Yello are FDA-approved, some people prefer to try to avoid artificial flavors, preservatives, or colorants. When you brew your own coffee or tea, you have full control over any additives.
Research also shows that drinking coffee is correlated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and stroke. Coffee also provides small amounts of B vitamins, potassium, and manganese.
Is there a caffeine-free Mello Yello?
According to the brand’s website, the only products available outside of Coca-Cola Freestyle fountains are the original Mello Yello and Mello Yello Zero. Both these sodas and the fountain flavors all contain caffeine.
Can you reduce the caffeine in Mello Yello?
There isn’t really a way to cut the caffeine in soda. Unless it’s already sold as a caffeine-free or reduced caffeine option, the only things you can do are reduce your overall consumption of the drink or dilute it with plain carbonated water.
You can limit your consumption of Mello Yello by pouring yourself smaller glasses and drinking them slowly. Research shows that people tend to consume what’s put in front of them — if you use a smaller glass, forcing you to get up and refill it when it’s empty, you’re likely to drink less.
You can also reduce your intake by simply drinking fewer glasses throughout the day, especially before sleeping or during other times when you know you’ll be most affected by caffeine.
Plain carbonated water pretty much allows you to water down soda without affecting the fizz. You can expect the result to taste lighter and less sweet, but still have a similar carbonation level to the original soda. The proportion of carbonated water to Mello Yello will reduce the caffeine content by a corresponding amount. For example, mixing six ounces of Mello Yello with six ounces of carbonated water will yield a 12-ounce beverage with about 27 mg of caffeine. If you’re used to filling up a big travel cup and going on about your day, this might be the best option.
Mello Yello is a much-loved drink in the areas where it’s available. While it never quite managed to dominate Mountain Dew’s market, it has some truly diehard fans. If you’re not able to drink caffeine like you used to, you don’t necessarily have to give up your Mello Yello habit. You can space your drinks out, use smaller glasses, or even cut soda with sparkling water as necessary.