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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

What is ‘Dirty Soda’? Utah’s favorite drink trending on social media

(Next) – talk dirty.

A relatively new food trend that originated in Utah — “dirty soda” — has been bubbling up in the national spotlight in recent weeks, and it’s largely thanks to social media.

The drink itself is fairly simple: it’s syrup, juice, puree, dairy product, coffee creamer, or soda mixed with any combination of other flavorings. But the idea really took hold with Utans in the 2010s, a phenomenon likely fueled by the state’s large population of Latter-day Saints looking for an alternative to alcoholic cocktails or coffee.

Jeremy Pugh of Salt Lake Magazine once explained the trend, “Just as coffee gulpers have fetishized their favorite drinks, Utans have added complex flourishes and artistic elements to their modest vices.”

Utah has since become home to several chains that specialize in dirty sodas, including Swig, Sodalicious, and Fizz. All of them have already opened outposts out of state, but the concept remained largely unknown in much of the country until late 2021, when “Drivers License” singer Olivia Rodrigo was photographed holding a foam cup from Swig .

This is exactly when TikTok took notice.

In the months that followed, videos explaining the finer points of dirty soda (or “Utah soda”) have been viewed millions of times on social media, some of which have taken the form of recipe tutorials or reviews.

“I would say, like, maybe 70% of Utah’s population is addicted to soda, myself included, because we have all these really fun drinking places where they put a bunch of fun add-ons to drinks,” TikTok user @hailee_claycomb said in a video that has garnered over 1.7 million views since March 29. “I have three different drinking places, like Soda Shop Place, within five minutes of my house.”

“These people are literally addicted to their sodas,” explained another TikTok user @taylorblender, who said she previously worked at a soda shop. In the same video, which garnered 3.6 million views, he claimed that many customers would top their sodas with whipped cream, sprinkles or candy.

But perhaps the most popular type of dirty soda – at least as far as social media is concerned – is “Dirty Coke.” Made with Diet Coke, coconut coffee creamer and lime juice, “Dirty Coke” has become the “it” dirty soda of TikTok taste-testers.

“I am completely shocked,” commented one reviewer. “It’s really amazing.”

Another TikTok user claimed, “You Utah girls hooked me up.”

It’s too early to tell whether #dirtyCoke is a fleeting social-media trend or perhaps a gateway drink that normalizes “dirty” sodas in the rest of the country. Chains specializing in these beverages are betting on the latter, with Swig expanding to Texas in May.

Swig co-founder Nicole Tanner told The New York Times earlier this year, “It may sound very strange to some people who’ve never been there, but it’s happiness in a cup.” “I’ve always known that this is something that can and should go everywhere.”

After all, if Utah is going down and getting dirty with its soda, what’s stopping the rest of us?

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