Johnson City was approved to receive a Tennessee State Historic Marker naming Johnson City as the “HOME OF MOUNTAIN DEW.” The ceremony will take place Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the corner of West Walnut and Cherokee Street, the previous location of Tri-City Beverage. The marker will be unveiled by Chuck Gordon and Bill Bridgforth Jr., sons of the founders.
In 2016 local bottle collector, Scott Lusk, decided to get Johnson City and Tri-City Beverage recognition for its role in creating Mountain Dew. For the next three years Lusk worked with Linda Wynn, Assistant Director for State Programs at the Tennessee Historical Commission to have a 2018 resolution passed in the Tennessee State Senate and a historical marker placed at the bottling plant’s first location.
In 2018 the Tennessee Senate Resolution was presented to both sons of the men who put Mountain Dew on the map in East Tennessee. Bridgforth and Gordon accepted the resolution for their late fathers, Bill Bridgforth, Sr. and Charles Gordon, Sr. Bridgforth was Tri-City Beverage president and Charles Gordon, Tri-City Beverage owner and founder. After selling to PepsiCo. Corp. in 1964, Mountain Dew became one of America’s favorite soft drinks and third-biggest liquid refreshment beverage megabrand in the U.S. with sales in the billions.
The resolution reads, “Charlie Gordon and Bill Bridgforth were responsible for the initial growth of Mountain Dew and the subsequent creation of the new flavor, and Johnson City is the home of Mountain Dew; and in 1954 the first franchise for Mountain Dew was awarded to Charles “Charlie” O. Gordon of Johnson City, the founder of the Tri-City Beverage Corporation and innovator in soft drink production and pioneer in marketing.”
The resolution continued, “Johnson City was honored by the PepsiCo Corporation in 2012 when the company introduced an extension to the Mountain Dew brand in honor of Johnson City’s contribution to the success of Mountain Dew naming the brand, ‘Johnson City Gold.’
A fascinating historical account of how Mountain Dew evolved was written by Bridgforth’s oldest son, Dick Bridgforth who lives in Houston, Texas, titled “Mountain Dew: The History.”
Tri-City Beverage is also known for the region’s favorite Dr. Enuf soft drink.
The Tri-City Beverage Story: A History of Dr. Enuf and Mountain Dew in Johnson City will be on display at the Reece Museum beginning July 22 and continuing through September 30, 2019.
Both the sign unveiling and the museum exhibit are official parts of Johnson City’s festivities for its Sesquicentennial Celebration.