(NEXSTAR) – Let’s Talk Dirty.
A relatively new food trend that originated in Utah — “dirty soda” — has burst onto the national scene in recent weeks, and it’s largely thanks to social media.
The drink itself is quite simple: it’s soda mixed with any combination of syrups, juices, purees, dairy products, coffee creamer or other flavourings. But the idea really caught on with Utahans in the 2010s, a phenomenon likely fueled by the state’s large Latter-day Saint population seeking an alternative to boozy cocktails or coffee. .
“Just as coffee drinkers have fetishized their favorite beverage, Utahns have also added intricate flourishes and artisanal elements to their modest vice,” Jeremy Pugh of Salt Lake Magazine explained of the trend.
Utah has since been home to several chains specializing in dirty soda, including Swig, Sodalicious, and Fiiz. All have previously opened outposts outside the state, but the concept remained largely unknown to much of the country until late 2021, when ‘Drivers License’ singer Olivia Rodrigo was pictured holding a foam cup of Swig.
That’s around the time TikTok noticed it.
In the months since, videos explaining the intricacies of dirty sodas (or “Utah sodas”) have been viewed millions of times on social media, some taking the form of recipe tutorials or reviews.
“I would say, for example, 70% of the people in Utah probably have a soda addiction, myself included, because we have all these really fun drinking places around us where they put a whole bunch of ‘fun additions in drinks,’ TikTok user @hailee_claycomb said in a video that has been viewed over 1.7 million times since March 29. “I have three different drinking places, like sodas, within five minutes of my house.”
“These people are literally addicted to their sodas,” explained @taylorblender, another TikTok user who said she previously worked at a soda shop. In the same video, which has 3.6 million views, she claimed that many customers would top their sodas with whipped cream, sprinkles or candies.
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 creamer and lime juice, “dirty Coke” has become the “it” dirty soda of TikTok taste testers.
“I’m completely surprised,” remarked one reviewer. “It’s really unbelievable.”
“You girls from Utah got me hooked,” another TikTok user said.
It’s too early to tell if #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 drinks are betting on them, with Swig expanding to Texas in May.
“It may seem so strange to some people who have never been, but it’s happiness in a cup,” Swig co-founder Nicole Tanner told The New York Times earlier this year. “I always knew from the start that this is something that can and should go anywhere.”
After all, if Utah is getting dirty with its soda, what’s stopping us?
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