(NEXSTAR) – Let’s talk dirty.
A relatively new food trend that originated in Utah – the “dirty soda” – has been bubbling into the national spotlight in recent weeks, and it’s largely thanks to social media.
The drink itself is simple enough: It’s soda mixed with any combination of syrups, juices, purees, dairy products, coffee creamer, or other flavorings. But the idea really took hold with Utahns 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.
“Just as coffee gulpers have fetishized their favorite beverage, so too have Utahns added complex flourishes and artisanal elements to their modest vice,” Jeremy Pugh of Salt Lake Magazine once explained of the trend.
Utah has since become home to several chains that specialize in dirty soda, including Swig, Sodalicious and Fiiz. All of them have already opened outposts outside of the state, but the concept remained largely unknown to much of the country until late 2021, when “Drivers License” singer Olivia Rodrigo was photographed holding a foam cup from Swig.
That’s right around the time TikTok took notice.
In the months that followed, videos explaining the finer points of dirty sodas (or “Utah sodas”) have been viewed millions of times on social media, with some taking the form of recipe tutorials or reviews.
“I would say, like, 70% of the population of Utah probably has a soda addiction, including myself, because we have all these really fun drink places around us where they put all a bunch of fun add-ons in the drinks,” said TikTok user @hailee_claycomb in a video that has been viewed more than 1.7 million times since March 29. “I have three different drink places, like soda shop places, within five minutes of my house.”
“These people are literally addicted to their soda,” 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 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 the “dirty coke.” Made with Diet Coke, Coconut coffee creamer and lime juice, the “dirty Coke” has become the “it” dirty soda of TikTok taste-testers.
“I am thoroughly surprised,” one reviewer remarked. “This is really amazing.”
“You Utah girlies got me hooked,” another TikTok user claimed.
It’s too early to tell whether #dirtyCoke is a fleeting social-media trend or perhaps a gateway beverage that normalizes “dirty” sodas in the rest of the country. The chains that specialize in these drinks are betting on the latter, with Swig expanding as far as Texas in May.
“It may sound so weird 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’ve always known from the start that this is something that can and should go everywhere.”
After all, if Utah is getting down and dirty with their soda, what’s stopping the rest of us?
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