I was today years old when I discovered soda shops still exist. A hallmark of the 1920s that began to boom just after Prohibition, it turns out soda shops are still thriving in none other than the state of Utah. If you’ve scrolled through TikTok over the last month, you’ve probably seen people drinking fizzy sodas decked out with coffee creamer, fresh fruits, flavored syrups, and even candy bits on top. This, dear reader, is what is known as “Utah Soda.”
In fact, the #UtahSoda hashtag on TikTok has recently amassed over 7.8 million views after Utah-based TikTok user Taylor Blender posted a video inviting viewers to ask her anything about “Utah Sodie Culture” April 11. She then shared her experience working at a Utah soda shop and enlightened those unaware by explaining how soda mixed with a variety of flavored syrups (blue raspberry and peach, for example) and a coffee creamer of choice is standard procedure for soda shop customers. These unique beverages are not only a tradition in the state, but for some, a soda shop is a daily stop in lieu of a typical midday coffee pick-me-up.
One of the most popular Utah soda combinations is called the “Dirty Soda” or “Dirty Diet Coke.” To clarify, this is simply a Diet Coke infused with coffee creamer and lime. Curious TikTok viewers are giving the drinks a try, swapping out regular creamer for coconut-flavored creamer and adding in a variety of syrups like grapefruit and guava. There’s even the option of whipped cream for some extra fluff. With “sodie,” as some from Utah like to call it, there is no recipe too far-fetched.
The History Of Utah Soda Shops
To fully understand the hype around jazzed-up soda creations in Utah, it’s important to unpack the origins of these establishments. According to the 2022 release of the World Population Review, Utah has the highest Mormon population with 2,126,216 members of the church residing in the state. Around 68% of Utah’s total population is part of 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 Latter-day Saints Church (Doctrine and Covenants 89:9) to mean that members should not drink hot beverages like tea and coffee, so as to avoid “habit-forming” drinks that could potentially harm the body. While not every member of the church followed the no-coffee rule, there was still a demand for alternative beverage options. Back in 2012, an official website post by the Church clarified that caffeine is not the sole reason to avoid the aforementioned drinks. Thus, soda shop chains like Sodalicious and Swig opened for business in the early 2010s, revolutionizing the way we view soda and standing in place of drive-thru coffee franchises like those typically seen in other U.S. states.
What Is Called “Soda” In Utah?
A need-to-know when it comes to soda in Utah is that your average Dr. Pepper is, well, not average. When you browse a few soda shop menus, concoctions like “Life’s A Peach” (Dr. Pepper, vanilla, peach, half & half) from Swig and the “Fictionist” (Code Red Mountain Dew, piña colada puree, whipped cream) from Sodalicious make it clear that Utah residents are serious about their sodas. These drive-thru shops are also well-known for their customizable options, allowing customers to either select from their menu of curated drinks or dream up their own recipe. Starbucks secret menu, you’ve met your match.
How To Recreate “Dirty Soda” At Home
For an at-home initiation into the Utah sodie culture, you’ll need a can of Diet Coke, coffee creamer (the brand and flavor is totally up to you), and a fresh lime or lime juice. Fill your glass with ice, pour in your soda and preferred amount of cream, then pop in your lime juice to taste. Mix to your liking and there you have it. The final product is a subtle cream soda with a slight tang, enhancing the flavor of the Diet Coke instead of taking away from the essence of the fizzy goodness. BTW, take it from me, start small with the creamer and taste test it until you’re satisfied with the resulting ratio since sodas are already pretty sweet on their own.
If Diet Coke isn’t your thing or you just want to test out as many fun soda creations as possible, here are a few *chef’s kiss* recipes from TikTok that you can enjoy even if you don’t live in Utah.
Okay, but this one is gorgeous?? You’ll need Sprite, watermelon and strawberry syrup, and vanilla or coconut coffee creamer. You’re welcome.
Give a warm hello to the peaches and cream drink you never knew you needed. Make sure to have Mountain Dew, peach syrup, and creamer on hand for this bev that’s perfect for summer.
Oh, and if you just want to head over to a drive-in with the good ice (Here’s to you, Sonic), this is how you do it. On my way to try the Pink Lady with a soft pretzel right now.