What is Utah Soda? The history of the TikTok trend, explained.

I was years old today when I found out that soda shops still existed. A hallmark of the 1920ss that began to flourish right after Prohibition, it turns out that soda stores are still booming in the state of Utah. If you’ve browsed TikTok in the past month, you’ve probably seen people drinking fizzy sodas topped with coffee creamer, fresh fruit, flavored syrups, and even pieces of candy. This, dear reader, is what is called “Utah Soda”.

In fact, the #UtahSoda hashtag on TikTok recently amassed over 7.8 million views after the Utah-based TikTok user Taylor mixer posted a video inviting viewers to ask him about “Utah Sodie culture” on April 11. She then shared her experience working at a Utah soda store and enlightened those who didn’t know by explaining how soda mixed with a variety of flavored syrups (blue raspberry and peach, for example) and a Choosing coffee creamer is standard procedure for soda customers. These unique drinks are not only a tradition in the state, but for some, a soda shop is a daily stop instead of a typical pick-me-up at the midday cafe.

One of Utah’s most popular soda combinations is called “Dirty Soda” or “Dirty Diet Coke”. To clarify, this is simply a Diet Coke infused with coffee creamer and lime. Curious TikTok viewers try the drinks, replacing regular cream with coconut cream and adding a variety of syrups like grapefruit and guava. There is even the possibility of whipped cream for some extra fluff. With “sodie”, like some of Utah likes to call it, there’s no recipe too far-fetched.

The History of Utah Soda Shops

To fully understand the hype around Utah’s jazzy soda creations, it’s important to unpack the origins of these establishments. According to the 2022 version of the world population review, Utah has the highest Mormon population with 2,126,216 church members residing in the state. Approximately 68% of Utah’s total population belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (informally known as the Mormon Church or LDS Church). So what does this have to do with soda shops?

Early Church leaders interpreted a book of scripture in The Church of Latter-day Saints (Doctrine and Covenants 89:9) to mean that members should not drink hot beverages like tea and coffee, to avoid “addictive” beverages that could potentially harm the body. While not all members church followed the no coffee rule, there was always a demand for alternative drinks. In 2012, a publication on the official website of the Church clarified that caffeine is not the only reason to avoid the aforementioned beverages. Thus, soda chains like Sodalicious and swig opened in the early 2010s, revolutionizing the way we view sodas and replacing drive-thru cafe franchises like those typically found in other US states.

What is “soda” in Utah?

A need to know when it comes to soda in Utah is that your average Dr. Pepper isn’t average. When perusing a few soda menus, concoctions like “Life’s A Peach” (Dr. Pepper, vanilla, peach, half and half) from swig and the “Fictionist” (Code Red Mountain Dew, piña colada purée, whipped cream) from Sodalicious make it clear that Utah residents are serious about their sodas. These drive-thru shops are also known for their customizable options, allowing customers to choose from their select drink menu or come up with their own recipe. Starbucks secret menu, you’ve found your match.

How to recreate “Dirty Soda” at home

For an at-home introduction to Utah’s sodie culture, you’ll need a can of Diet Coke, coffee creamer (brand and flavor are entirely up to you), and a fresh lime or lime juice. Fill your glass with ice, pour in your favorite soda and amount of cream, then add your lime juice to taste. Mix to your liking and voila. The end product is a subtle cream soda with a light flavor, enhancing the flavor of the Diet Coke instead of taking away the essence of the fizzy goodness. BTW, trust me, start small with the creamer and experiment until you’re happy with the ratio you get, because sodas are sweet enough on their own.

If Diet Coke isn’t your thing or you just want to try out as many fun soda creations as possible, here are some *chef’s kisses* recipes from TikTok that you can enjoy even if you don’t live in Utah.

Alright, but this one is beautiful?? You will need Sprite, watermelon and strawberry syrup, and vanilla or coconut coffee creamer. You’re welcome.

Say a warm hello to the peach and cream drink you never knew you needed. Make sure you have Mountain Dew, peach syrup and cream on hand for that perfect summer bev.

Oh, and if you just wanna head to a drive-in with some good ice cream (over to you, Sonic), this that’s how you do it. On my way to try the Pink Lady with a soft pretzel right now.

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