Monday, February 4, 2013

The Great Mountain Dew Experiment

A year ago this Super Bowl, our family embarked on a fantastical journey of discovery and intellectual awakening to answer one of life’s many great mysteries – what happens if a mouse is left in Mountain Dew for a year.  Today our quest came to an end as we have definitively arrived at a destination as shocking as it is revolting.  Join us now for the great unveiling of a universal truth.


A year ago, a PepsiCo lawyer admitted in court something we all pretty much knew but chose to blistfully ignore - Mountain Dew was eating us from the inside out.  To better understand this magical process, we decided to replicate this as best we could.  We submersed raw chicken in various liquids, including Mountain Dew, and sealed them in bell jars.  The jars then set in a dark corner of our basement - for a year.  Yesterday, they made their triumphant return to the land of the living.  Although, the jar collection looked like they belonged to the land of the living dead.

Despite every obvious warning sign and with my trusty lab assistant at my side, we plunged ahead and cracked open the first jar.  The stench that emitted from that chicken tomb was so repellantly awful, we and our jars were quickly ejected from the house.  Multiple sticks of incense were burned in order to exorcise that smell from the kitchen.

Now on the back porch with Arlington taking careful notes, we extracted our first sample.  Our control, chicken stored in water.  Not surprisingly, the chicken didn't look too bad.  Sort of if you sat in a bathtub for a year.  The meat was a little lose on the bone but it was all there.  Smelled like death but it was all there.

Things quickly devolved from here.  In a continuation of one of the greatest battles since good versus evil, we sought to compare Coke versus Pepsi.  And like the contest of the immovable object versus the irresistible force, Coke v. Pepsi came out as a draw.  Both of them did an incredibly proficient job of liquifying the chicken.  When the soda was poured away, all that was left was some bone and a pool of gelatinous goop.  Nothing in the sieve could be mistaken for a meatlike substance.

The biggest surprise of the whole experiment came next.  The chicken coming out of the Caffeine-Free Diet Coke looked to be in perfect health.  Even better than water.  The artificial sweeteners in Diet sodas may give you cancer but they won't dissolve your esophagus.  In fact, you might be preserving yourself.  Like giving yourself a formaldehyde rinse. 

Sprite and Ginger Ale showed us what the middle ground looked like.  In both cases, the form of the chicken had been completely lost but there were detectable pieces of meat in the resulting debris.  Even a little skin.  The O'Doul's of sodas tenderized our meat without chewing it up.

It is one thing to dump these corrosive substances down our own gullet but what about the stuff we typically give the little ones.  Well, bad news.  V8 Splash and Grape Soda were even worse than Coke and Pepsi.  In fact, V8 Splash left only bone, two pieces of cartilage, and small amount of a fat-like substance in the strainer.  If you have a dead body laying around the house, need to dispose of it, and are fresh out of hydrochloric acid, V8 Splash looks to be your best bet for getting rid of all that bothersome incriminating evidence.  Grape soda would provide a nice back-up plus it would stain the remains a delightful shade of purple.  Apple Juice and Root Beer also provided a soupy mess but there was a little bit more meat on the bone.  Or at least a few scraps of skin floating around in there.

At this point, we decided to do a little poking around.  Literally.  And when a fork was applied to the Apple Juice treated bone, we found that the tong easily pierced this formerly dense material.  As we probed subsequent bones, we found that they all had become quite spongy.  The bones remained but they were a shell of their former selves.

Our next pairing of drinks were the high caffeine, low taste drinks, Red Bull and Monster Energy.  I expected these noxious concoctions to be something akin to drain cleaner.  Surprisingly, they looked very similar to Sprite.  Especially Monster.  The chicken meat was not only present but it was still connected to the bone.  Red Bull was close but more fat than meat was hanging around.  You wouldn't want to eat that meat but if you did, you wouldn't get to sleep for weeks.

For the grand finale, we have the Mountain Dew products.  In the end, it was a bit anti-climactic.  The Dews didn't do any more damage to the mouse stand-in than many of our other products.  Would a mouse trapped in a bottle of Mountain Dew be reduced to gelatin in a years time?  Pretty much.  There likely would be enough of the mouse left to know it was there though.  The bone would be soft and malleable but it would still look like bone.  You would have a layer of Crisco floating about.  And based on this, there would be a few tasty morsels of meat hanging around as well.  Add in a bit of random hair to the picture below and you have Mountain Dew mouse.  Thank you science.

Final thoughts - From the stand point of interpreting the results, we could not ensure that we had an air tight seal on our bell jars.  The amount of air that got into each sample might have varied significantly from sample to sample.  I imagine that the greater exposure to air might have sped the decay process.  Differences between jars were observed.  For instance, when I unscrewed the Diet Coke and Mountain Dew jars, the tops blew off from the trapped gases.  Others didn't pop off but I did have to pry them off because the lid was so tight.  One argument for a consistently tight seal on our jars was the lack of smell prior to opening the lids.  The decaying flesh was wretched but that particular aroma did not tickle our noses until we broke the seal.  But most importantly, I got to spend some time with my daughter on a fun bit of exploratory biology with her.  She got to poke and prod.  She took scrupulous notes on her observations.  Comparing color, odor, texture.  She learned that if you want to know if something is true, you should just go ahead and test it yourself.  And she learned that that nutritional vegetable drink is rotting her teeth.  

Oh yeah, here is a picture of our collected chicken waste.  YUM.


Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...


my cousin Amy would like this, she's a forensic scientist!

The Kovalls said...

You are so disgusting! But, I shared it with my students...

The Kovalls said...

You are so disgusting! But, i shared it with my students...