Mountain Dew Headstone – Johnson City, Tennessee - Gastro Obscura

Mountain Dew Headstone

Oak Hill Cemetery
Johnson City, Tennessee

This bottle-shaped monument pays tribute to the Appalachian drink that changed the pace of human life. 

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This six-foot-tall headstone pays tribute to the Appalachian drink that changed the pace of human life: Mountain Dew. Located in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Johnson City, this unique monument is an homage to Mountain Dew’s original bottle design.

Brothers Ally and Barney Hartman ran a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in Knoxville, Tennessee. They wanted a lemon-lime soda to use as a mixer with whiskey, and mixed up a little something of their own. They jokingly called it Mountain Dew, an old nickname for moonshine. They debuted the product in its signature deep green bottles at a 1946 bottling convention in Gatlinburg. 

On the bottles were labels with an illustration of a barefoot, overall-wearing character nicknamed “Willie the Hillbilly.” Willie held a rifle in one hand and a jug of moonshine in the other. The drink’s tagline was “It’ll tickle yore innards!”

Within a few years, the Hartman brothers had trademarked the name. Eventually, they made a deal with Tri-City Beverage and began to bottle and sell Mountain Dew. In 1960, plant manager Bill Bridgforth placed citrus lemonade into the Mountain Dew bottles, which is the flavor of Mountain Dew today. The Pepsi-Cola Company acquired the Mountain Dew brand in 1964, and eventually ditched the hillbilly aesthetic. But this monument in Johnson City remembers the beverage’s roots.

Don’t forget to bring your favorite bottled beverage! The headstone has a built-in bottle opener for all to use. 

Know Before You Go

Oak Hill Cemetery operates from sunrise to sunset, the headstone is on the east edge of the property, also visible from S Boone Street.

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