Soda: Dr. Enuf, Mountain Dew's Long-Lost Brother


[Photograph: Jed Portman]

You may not have heard of Johnson City, Tennessee's Dr. Enuf, but chances are you know its long-lost brother, Mountain Dew. Tri-Cities Beverage Company bottled both until the mid-1960s, when it sold the Dew to Pepsi. While Mountain Dew has gone on to worldwide fame and fortune, Dr. Enuf has remained a hometown favorite.

Like many popular soft drinks, Dr. Enuf was first mixed as a medicinal beverage. The formula came from a Chicago chemist named Bill Schwartz, who developed it as an energy drink. Unlike most sodas, though, it's still sold that way. "The Original Energy Booster," reads the bottle. "Rich in Vitamins!" Each bottle of Dr. Enuf contains 220% of the daily requirement of Thiamin and 80% Niacin; the packaging explains what each does and isn't shy about preaching the healing powers of the blend:

A refreshing soft drink loaded with vitamins and minerals that, we're told, has had an amazing effect on a lot of folks. Testimonials have poured in claiming a wide range of benefits, from newfound energy to relief of "untold misery" from aches and pains. No claims—simply the facts.

Lots of caffeine and lots of sugar, of course, are a quick path to "newfound energy." Other health benefits have yet to be proven. I've only been drinking this stuff for a few days, but will be sure to report any relief from aches and pains.

In the meantime, let's talk flavor. There is a definite family resemblance between Dr. Enuf and Mountain Dew. Enuf hits the tongue with a sweet, lemon-lime flavor that will be familiar to anyone who's tried Mountain Dew or 7-Up.

But the sugar rush (which is fueled, by the way, by real cane sugar) ends with a medicinal kick that caught me completely off guard. The best equivalent I know is the quinine bitterness in tonic water. That bite deadens the nagging sweetness that sticks to the tongue after a sip of 7-Up or Mountain Dew, leaving an herbal aftertaste unlike anything I've tasted in a soft drink before.

Dr. Enuf is a grown-up lemon-lime soda, unique enough and good enough to be more than just a regional curiosity. Also of note: it should not be surprising that, with its citrus sweetness and tonic bite, Dr. Enuf makes a damn good mixer. And if you overdo it, well, locals say it's good for hangovers too.