VLOG: Dissolving Mice in Mountain Dew

For your viewing pleasure, have a bideo.

I’ll pretend to kitchen science for you!


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Hopefully my friend Sarah (who filmed) and I will amuse (and possibly disgust) you.


Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

About christinastephens
  • ‘Tis Himself, OM.

    Shouldn’t Christina have used carbonated water to closer approximate Mountain Dew®?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

      I should have.

      Time to go get more mice…

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula PZ Myers

    Just a warning: GASSES OF DECOMPOSITION. There are going to be some very happy, very busy bacteria working away in those jars of sugar water and rotting meat, and you might have considerable build up of pressure. I hope you’ve got them contained so that they don’t make your basement uninhabitable.

    Have you put any thought into disposal afterwards?

    • ‘Tis Himself, OM.

      I knew there was a good reason why I went into economics rather than science.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

      Good point, biologist! (Thanks PZ)

      I’ll be moving my little friends into a large sealed rubbermaid container to, er, contain them.

    • coldhope

      …This is going to be the best tiny version of Exploding Casket Syndrome ever. :3

  • http://www.speakingupanyway.wordpress.com Allie

    Placebo is an awesome name for a pet. I might steal that one.

  • triamacleod

    PZ is correct about the build up of gases, so I have to wonder how a sealed can of MD wouldn’t have burst. Unless perhaps the mouse was in fact a pinky mouse (less flesh to decay, less gas given off by the bacteria) that fell in while the can was being sealed at a plant. Although I would think a field mouse or something of that nature would be far more likely.

    While it will be interesting to see the results of this experiment, and to obsess over what MD is actually doing to my gut, I do have some serious doubts as to the details of this man’s account of pouring a mouse out of a can.

    Although this is starting to remind me of the MythBuster episode regarding cola-centered urban myths.

    • http://blackfingerssmithy.wordpress.com/ BaisBlackfingers

      Regarding the can, they build those things to withstand substantial pressure so that the soda doesn’t degas while sitting on the shelf. It seems like the decomp might end up being something of a wildcard- starting bacterial load, species composition and the different liquid media in each jar will affect the amount (and possibly type?) of gas generated. The gut bacteria are probably all going to be similar, but mice pick up all kinds of things on the fur and skin, plus of course whatever was in the water/air/jar to start.

      Also since PZ pointed out that these are basically jars of sugar and water, if you get a decent load of yeast in one of them, it could even ferment! Worst beer ever…

      • http://curiousmusing-curiousmind.blogspot.com Leila

        I dunno, given the trend of putting things like scorpions and larvae into vodka and tequila, you might be onto something with mouse beer. Pitch it to the nearest high-end department store!

        • http://www.speakingupanyway.wordpress.com allie

          Or anywhere in Portland, OR. Portlandia isn’t satire, people. It’s a documentary, and mouse beer would be super popular here.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

    I was more shocked by the amount of sugar than by the possibility of a mouse. A canned mouse spat out would be unlikely to kill me but daily consumption of that much sugar might.

    Anyway you prompted me to go look at some chicken bones my kids put in vinegar in the mid-90′s and then forgot about. Here. Next time one of my kids is visiting I’ll give them the honor of opening the jar and examining the physical properties of the subject material. The hypothesis was that they would become “rubbery”.

    (The jar was full when it was put on the shelf under the steps.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

      What he heck are those white balls? Fat?

      • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

        “What he heck are those white balls? Fat?”

        I don’t think so, since they don’t float. It’ll be interesting to look at them more closely when the jar is opened but that won’t be for a while.

        Some kind of deposit from dissolved calcium? Chicken-bone pearls?

  • coldhope

    I love this whole silly lawsuit. For one thing, it’s vanishingly unlikely that a mouse could’ve made it into the can on the bottling line without being squashed by any number of fast-moving automated machines bending and crimping and pressing the aluminum cans. For another, an adult mouse wouldn’t have been able to fit through the pop-tab opening on the top of the can, so he couldn’t have poured it out unless it had a) deliquesced or b) been a pinky, and they don’t immediately visually register as mice so much as little disembodied thumbs.

    Then we take into account the whole decomposition process. I have no idea what the preservative qualities of Mountain Dew are, so it’ll be interesting to watch this experiment, but I’m betting the can would have popped open from the gases produced during the process before it could have reached a consumer.

    I think this is a big fat case of Plaintiff Did Not Do The Research.

    • procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

      I suspect that the cans are filled and then the tops are crimped to the can body (confirmed by a shaky article in wikipedia). Plenty of opening for mouse intrusion. As to pouring said mouse out the much reduced stay-tab hole, I’m skeptical.

      • Graham

        A long time ago, I worked in a factory which canned soft drinks, and can confirm this. The can bodies arrived on pallets via fork lift trucks, maybe 400 to a layer and 6 layers, the whole thing flimsily sealed, not seriously mouse-proof. The lids came separately in stacks. Lids, bodies, water, CO2, and the sugary goo went into the big machine separately. Goodness knows what happened inside it.

        • Kate from Iowa

          So it’s possible that an already dead mouse could have been in a can before it went to the line, even? More likely than one getting in while on the line, it sounds.

          Unless it had drowned in the syrup. Ew. Which I can totally see, because the little bastards are always eating, it seems.

    • Pteryxx

      or b) been a pinky, and they don’t immediately visually register as mice so much as little disembodied thumbs.

      …you ALMOST owe me a new keyboard with that comparison. <3

  • Trebuchet

    You’ve left out a case — Diet Mountain Dew! And you probably needed HFCS rather than just Karo syrup. Some folks say it’ll rot your insides.

    Are those Ragdoll cats? (We’ve got two!)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

      Diet Mountain Dew is SACRILEGIOUS. Not in my house…

      The cats are Ragdoll crossed with Sneaky-Neighbor-Cat.

      • Ubi Dubium

        I hope you got an extra mouse for each of your cats. I’m guessing that your cat was climbing on the table because it could smell the mice, and then you went and sealed them all in jars! Poor kitty!

  • Irene Delse

    Uh, oh! Apart from the problem of decomposition glasses, watch out for a descent of PETA…

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  • NotAProphet

    For all the debate about mouse size and ‘pourability’, are there not any tiny rodent breeds in North America (or wherever his can was produced)? I’ve seen adult/juvenile mice in the UK not much bigger than the pinkies used to feed snakes.

  • Flagrant Nonbeliever

    I, too, have serious doubts about the validity of the claim. I was curious, however, about the amount of bacteria that could be on and inside a pinky mouse. Surely the digestive system would not be mature enough to have a significant amount of bacteria. Given that it would also not have reasonably been far from the nest it could not have been very dirty on the outside either. This would leave very little to contribute to decomposition. That is, I think there would be less than simply having a smaller version of an adult mouse.

    In any case, I can’t wait to hear (not necessarily SEE) the results of your experiment. :D

  • http://curiousmusing-curiousmind.blogspot.com Leila

    Can’t wait to see the results of this experiment! I’m also loving your cats and their need to be included in the video. Maybe they’re wondering if you’ll be feeding them flavoured mice in a week…

  • Ubi Dubium

    My only thought on this is I think you might have put way too much lemon juice in the jars. It’s really strong, and the color of Mountain Dew is all artificial color, so that’s no help.

    If you are doing this experiment again, I suggest that you mix up a batch of lemonade in a separate container with appropriate amounts of sugar, then add lemon until it has the tartness of Mountain Dew, then fill the jars. Tasting the lemonade will be a better ph metric than guessing. Your method also gave your mice a brief exposure to undiluted lemon juice, which would be unlikely at a Pepsi plant. (Or just mix up some artificial lemonade mix. I don’t think Mountain Dew contains much actual juice!)

    And yes, carbonated water! Great idea! Lemonade made with carbonated water, and a drop or two of yellow food coloring!

    More Mice!!!

  • Michaelyn

    I have to wonder how long a can of mountain dew sits before it gets to the consumer. About a year you say?

    I also wonder, if mice do dissolve in soda, HOW MANY DISSOLVED MICE HAVE I ACCIDENTALLY DRANK IN MY LIFETIME?! It would still taste bad, right? Would I know not to drink it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

    The mice still look like mice so far. They are also now sealed in a large rubbermaid container smack in the middle of my basement on a concrete floor, so that any miceplosions shall not harm other things in my house.

    • coldhope

      (Sorry about this, I’m a longtime lurker but this whole post was just too cool not to comment on.)

      Rubbermaid container is an excellent foresightful measure. Actually, as others have said, soda cans are designed to withstand pretty serious internal pressure; I don’t know how good glass screw-top jars are in terms of containing methane pressure. You might also want to invest in some kind of desiccant like those crystal kitty litter brands to surround the jars in case of Leakage.

      Mausoleum directors have had to come up with tasteful methods of handling pretty much what you’re doing right now.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Someone in the previous thread mentioned skeletonization. I don’t think that’s likely.
    Can Mountain Dew really dissolve a mouse carcass?

    “I think it is plausible that it could dissolve a mouse in a few months,” said Yan-Fang Ren of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, who has studied the effects of citric acid on bones and teeth. “But dissolving (the mouse) does not mean it will disappear, because you’ll still have the collagen and the soft tissue part. It will be like rubber.”

    but in 2004, a well-known study led by dentist J. Anthony von Fraunhofer found that citrus sodas like Mountain Dew and Sprite erode tooth enamel around six times faster than colas.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Supposedly it was 15 months in between the bottling date and the time the can was opened.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    Y’all are bat$hit crazy!

    But I can so totally see this as a science fair project!

  • Graham

    Seems to me that conditions are quite like a peat bog. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_Man says:

    Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area. These conditions include highly acidic water, low temperature, and a lack of oxygen, combining to preserve but severely tan their skin. Despite the fact that their skin is preserved, their bones are generally not, as the acid in the peat dissolves the calcium phosphate of bone.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    When is the next episode?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Seems to me that conditions are quite like a peat bog

    In some ways. A peat bog has more tannic acid, so leatherizes skin. Mountain Dew has more citric acid, which is a chelator, and so probably dissolves bone even faster than in a bog.

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