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Distillery to Pepsi: 'Mountain Dew' Is Fair Game for Moonshiners

Ole Smoky Moonshine says the brand name has long been a descriptor for hooch in Appalachia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2019 9:20 AM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2019 9:37 AM CDT
The ingredients on a bottle of Mountain Dew are photographed in San Francisco on May 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – In Appalachia, those who distill moonshine have long called their product "mountain dew," and the descriptor as such can even be found in the dictionary. That's exactly what a Tennessee distillery is counting on as it fights to force PepsiCo to let it, and others, use the name of one of the conglomerate's most well-known brands. Ole Smoky Moonshine filed a motion Monday that would permit any company to use "mountain dew" for any booze product, because "it only makes sense that [the term] be shared amongst distillers," OSM founder Joe Baker tells ABC News. Included in this move was OSM backing off of its previous application to trademark "Ole Smoky Mountain Dew Moonshine," as the distillery now feels, after conferring with other alcohol manufacturers in the area, that "'mountain dew' is a phrase all moonshiners and people of the Appalachian region are fond of."

A 2017 WBIR article details the Appalachian roots of the phrase—a "well-understood term" that before World War II was generally taken to mean liquor, a historian says—and how Pepsi came to acquire the highly caffeinated drink of the same name from a Knoxville beverage company. The article even cites an old song about "mountain dew" that's been covered by the likes of Willie Nelson and others. PepsiCo, meanwhile, isn't backing down. "Mountain Dew is one of the world's most iconic and recognized brands, and has been since it was established more than 70 years ago," the company said in a statement to ABC News in January. "The planned unauthorized use of Mountain Dew by another party violates PepsiCo's trademark rights, and we must vigorously protect our brand." (Read more Pepsi stories.)

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