Mountain Dew, the eerily green, caffeine-laced citrus drink produced by PepsiCo, can turn a mouse into jelly, the company says.
The assertion came to light in a strange legal case that began when an Illinois man claimed to have found the corpse of a mouse in his soft drink a couple years ago. In its defence, PepsiCo called on a veterinary pathologist, who explained that if the mouse were really submerged in Mountain Dew for the 74 days the man alleged, it would have turned into a “ jelly-like substance.”
In its recap of the expert’s evidence, The Smoking Gun went even further, reporting: If a mouse is submerged in Mountain Dew between four and seven days, the rodent “will have no calcium in its bones and bony structures.” During those days of soft-drink immersion, “the mouse’s abdominal structure will rupture.” Additionally, “its cranial cavity (head) is also likely to rupture within that time period.”
While Pepsi’s argument may yet prove to be a sound legal strategy, it’s become a public-relations disaster. As a story in London’s Daily Mail – one of hundreds published worldwide in the past few days – put it yesterday: “It's a disturbing thought – could you drink a mouse without even knowing it?”
What’s been lost in much of the coverage so far is just how common this sort of claim is. Though such stories span the globe, they seem to capture Americans’ imaginations like nothing else. In another continuing case, a Washington State man claims to have found a mouse carcass in a can of Monster Energy Drink.
In a television report that ran the day he filed his lawsuit, the young man says, “Any time somebody talks about Monster I get a sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach.” (The reporter then warns, “When he finished drinking his Monster Energy Drink, he didn’t realize another monster would be at the bottom.”)
“I looked in the can and I saw the tail – the tip of the tail. And I just vomited everywhere,” said the young man, who is suing for physical and emotional damages. He may never be able to drink from a can again, his lawyer says.
Though there are plenty of worthwhile reasons not to drink soda pop, the risk from the acid it contains doesn’t appear to be nearly as great as its detractors claim.
The first four ingredients in Mountain Dew are carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice and citric acid. It’s those last two ingredients (both of them more-or-less natural, for what it’s worth) that are most likely to cause the jellifying.
In 1950, a professor from Cornell University testified before a U.S. Congressional committee that a tooth left in a cup of Coca-Cola for a couple days would soften and begin to dissolve. The truth, however, isn’t so simple. As this smart debunking of the claim points out, nobody holds Coca-Cola in their mouth for two days, plus saliva rinses away many of the sugars and acids in the drink. More convincing, perhaps, is that Coke has less tooth-jellifying phosphoric acid (0.55 per cent) than an orange (1.09 per cent).
But somehow, the old dissolve-a-nail-in-a-can-of-Coke experiment rarely gets done with juice.
They’re definitely disgusting, but are these mouse stories enough to put you off soft drinks?