Now that most states and counties have completely lifted pandemic restrictions just in time for summer, every single person in the country is poised to come running out of the house licking every possible surface they see. Everybody on earth can agree that 2020 was the worst, and the summer of 2021 has supposedly been coined “hot girl summer”, which does not bode well for the “pasty pot-bellied summer” over here on the dude side of things. I swear, I tried my best to lose the weight over the last, uh, year but once you are cemented in the mindset of “ah, well, fuck it” it becomes incredibly difficult to turn down any of our vices. And my biggest vice is always gonna be a blinding addiction to freebasing carbonated corn syrup.
So, now that we are finally embracing a real summer full of real summer activities, our good pals over at Pepsi have graced us with the seasonal return of our dearest seasonal friend, Baja Blast. This time, Blast has also brought some hot friends to the pool party. There are also TWO completely new Dew flavors available right now, and both are runneth over with warm sunshine vibes. There’s even a promotion available with these new flavors, deemed “100 Days of Baja” just to let you know that the summer of 2021 is just as finite as this promotion is. I’ve already returned three bottle caps to the promo, and so far have only “won” three entries for the $10,000 drawing. Only time will tell if this contest has the draw and staying power of the Pepsi Rock Band Promotion, but to be fair, that particular bar is set almost too impossibly high to begin with.
So let’s break down the contenders, shall we?
BAJA BLAST –
Back from a very fucking brief two week retail stint back in March 2020, Mtn Dew Baja Blast was reintroduced to the people alongside a new sugar-free version of Blast. The sugar-free version wasn’t the worst diet drink on the planet, but it was still worlds above the Diet Mtn Dew which is distilled directly from rat poison. This year, Sugar Free Baja returns with regular Blast, so if you are trying to cut the sugar out of your diet, Baja can still be a part of a well-balanced breakfast since this version is widely available.
Baja Blast has lived long enough to become an institution. What initially began as a half-baked promotional idea to try to improve taco sales to potheads, it eventually blossomed into the greatest flavor of all the 1,293 Dew variants. Baja Blast, in one word, is legendary. It’s the perfect color (think clean tropical ocean water/bright sapphire/tomb water from the first Tomb Raider game) paired with a refreshing and caffeinated kick that is just at home sitting next to your desktop as it is at the top of a half pipe, watching you helplessly bleeding to death at the bottom.
Since it’s unbeatable by pretty much anything, Baja Blast has been eliminated from competition.
It’s up to these two new flavors to bring it.
BAJA FLASH –
“Flash” is a really dumb descriptor for what is basically just pineapple based Dew. I know you are screaming at your screen that you can buy that shit any time at Dollar General any time you please. But truth be told, Flash is just a teensy bit different than Maui Burst. The pineapple taste also shares the stage with coconut making this the first pina colada themed Dew ever made. But can Flash make you put the lime in the coconut and drink the bowl up?
Box art: Baja Flash has a yellow theme and is covered in sea monsters, cartoon crabs and deep sea divers. It’s not as cool looking as Liberty Brew or Frostbite, but it has a hidden shark up in the corner (non rabid version).
Color: Baja Flash looks like the UTI version of Maui Burst. When compared next to each other, Flash is definitely more cloudy and you should definitely get that checked out. Maybe it’s just me, but cloudy soda is just weird no matter how much it stings.
Taste and Smell: Baja Flash smells like a white gummi bear wrapped inside a Mounds bar. Coconut is definitely the prominent scent, followed by whiffs of caramelized sugar.
On first taste, the coconut is indeed the big player in the game, but it bounces between pineapple and coconut in diminishing wavelengths within your mouth. It definitely has a unique flavor profile, tasting uniquely different than Maui Burst. It’s pretty much a pina colada soda with a side of extra colada. If coconut shrimp was a soda, this would be it.
Alcoholic Mixer?: I mixed this 3 to 1 with some Bacardi Solara and it was wonderful. Solara lends an aged rum taste that results in a sugary coconut remix that will definitely lead to some fun times and some terrible decisions. Highly recommended, but be aware, I did not feel great the next day, so definitely pace yourself and water that brain a few times between rounds.
Final Score: 7/10
BAJA PUNCH –
Fruit punch is such a weird flavor pick for an XTREME makeover. For some reason, fruit punch evokes childhood memories of weird little barrel drinks and room temperature Capri Suns. Fruit punch is the unofficial flavor of childhood that falls quickly out of favor as you get older, eventually making a comeback into your middle aged rotation as your favorite White Claw. I’ll try to keep my rose tinted nostalgia glasses in check when objectively reviewing Baja Punch. But it turns out that this is actually Tropical punch so I might not have any real connections with this anyways. Sorry, that was pretty much just a fun paragraph bitching about the ubiquitous nature of fruit punch.
Box Art: Baja Punch comes in a dark orange box that is covered in cherries, oranges, octopi and jellyfish. Everybody on the box is wearing cool shades. Nobody can genuinely hate on a jellyfish wearing some really cool shades. The baja blue color of the lettering and artwork pops harder off the orange background since those two colors fucking hate each other on the color wheel.
Color: Baja Punch is a tasteful, transparent shade of light orange. It looks like a watered down Orange Crush Jr.
Taste and Smell: I can’t discern any sort of smell that would indicate what flavor this soda would entail. It just smells like pure candy/sugar with the faintest (you gotta snort hard like Don Jr. atop a mountain of white powder) cherry scent?
This vague description also fits the taste as well. There are light notes of orange, cherry and marshmallow. There’s just nothing really overbearing about it, and I think that might actually be Baja Punch’s strongest suit. It doesn’t taste directly like anything, it just tastes GOOD. It actually tastes like a genetic offspring of Baja Blast that just got trapped inside Willy Wonka’s factory for too long. Baja Punch tastes far better than I thought it would. I woefully regret buying only one 12 pack of Punch.
Will it Mix? I thought that tequila might possibly be good with Baja Punch, but good lord that was one of the worst mixed drinks I’ve ever tried. It was a disappointing experiment, but know that you just can’t keep a good lush down. After several attempts, I discovered an incredible drink to make with a Baja Punch base. I call it the…
3 oz Baja Punch
2 oz Red Bull
5 oz cheap Vodka.
Mix well, garnish with a splash of 190 proof Everclear and pickle wedge. Serve over ice or inside a spill proof sippy cup you can take with you to go break stuff and flip cars over. It kinda tastes weird at first, but trust me, it gets even better after your tongue goes numb. I was gonna take a picture of my drink but I broke my phone and eventually lost it that night.
Final Score: 8.5/10
The verdict is in- the Punch version of summer slightly edges out the Flash, since we’ve already had plenty of experience with pineapple Dew to begin with. Since there’s no obvious flavor to Punch, it leads to more discussion and quandary which can sometimes be fun (See VooDew I and VooDew II) even though those VooDew drinks were a) gross AF and b) the exact same shit both times. Both of these sodas are great in their own strengths, but if I’m gonna have to choose one to joyfully hoist in the summer sun as I steal chlorine tablets from the pool supply place, I’ve gotta go with Baja Punch.
May your summer be full of wonderful memories and plenty of delicious handrails!
Teh Ben is a recovering soda blogger, trapped in a soda desert known as the West. He is still bitter that Faygo is outlawed around these here parts and is also banned for life from the White Claw factory. Follow his idiocy across other platforms, like his Twitter account, his Instagram, or his (un)helpful YouTube Channel.
BONUS FUN FACT: If you mix Punch and Flash together, you can create Baja Crayon!!