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What Is a Dirty Soda Shop?

The TikTok and Instagram craze using #dirtysoda started after Olivia Rodrigo posted a photo in December 2021 of her holding a Swig cup and asking fans what her favorite dirty soda was. 

In just a couple of months, there were over 1.3 million views of videos showing people how to make dirty soda. Now you can find millions. And dirty soda shops created many of these videos. 

So what is a dirty soda shop? Let’s find out.

What Is a Dirty Soda Shop?

A dirty soda shop sells carbonated drinks with added cream or flavored syrups. The adjective “dirty” is applied when you add anything to soda. 

For example, one menu item at a popular dirty soda shop in Utah is named Life’s a Peach, which includes Dr. Pepper, vanilla, peach, and half-and-half. 

Another is called Sugar Daddy, which is a mixture of Mountain Dew, raspberry, mango, pineapple, vanilla, and half-and-half.

Where Did Dirty Soda Originate From? 

While many say dirty soda originated in Utah, Sonic Drive-In has created mixed sodas and slushie drinks for much longer. However, many dirty soda shops have popped up in Utah. Some attribute this to the large population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Since dirty soda is alcohol-free, it’s a popular option for members of The Church of Jesus Christ. According to church doctrine, members choose to abstain from alcohol or hot drinks, which include coffee and non-herbal tea. 

In 2012, the church clarified the health practice and said this doesn’t include caffeine. Members could still enjoy cold beverages with caffeine. However, dirty soda shops started before this announcement but have since exploded in Utah and surrounding states. 

Popular shops include Swig, Fiiz, Sodalicious, The Drink Factory, The Pop Shop, and many more.

Do People in Utah Put Cream in Their Soda? 

Cream is an added ingredient to make dirty soda. Many use half-and-half, coconut cream, and coffee creamer to create these trendy concoctions. However, cream soda has existed for decades, such as the popular one from A&W.

One popular creamsicle-flavored dirty soda simply pours Sunkist over ice and vanilla creamer. Sometimes you can use syrup instead. But when you add this ingredient to the drink, it makes it thicker and creamier. 

Why Are Soda Shops a Thing in Utah?

Swig and Sodalicious are two popular dirty soda shops in Utah. They have locations throughout the Salt Lake City area and beyond. Swig began in 2010 before the church clarification regarding cafeine, and Sodalicious began in 2013. 

Both offer dozens of menu options that combine soda with fruits, flavors, and cream. They have enjoyed the effects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ clarification since the headquarters of the church and largest area of members is in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Can Mormons Drink Coke? 

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ were once commonly referred to as Mormons. However, their official name is members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or simply Latter-day Saints. Members of the church view the Word of Wisdom, a code of health, as a revelation from God that provides counsel on how to live a healthy life. 

In the Word of Wisdom, God commands Latter-day Saints to abstain from harmful substances, which include alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. Hot drinks are also on the list, but herbal teas are accepted. 

These guidelines also say to eat meat sparingly while fruits and vegetables should be eaten regularly. Exercising and getting quality sleep is also part of the Word of Wisdom guidance.

However, this counsel doesn’t include anything about caffeine or Coke. Some Latter-day Saints choose to abstain from soda because they believe the common ingredient in coffee and tea is caffeine. 

In 2012, when the church clarified that caffeine is permitted, some members felt more inclined to drink sodas while others chose to continue to refrain.

However, this has always been a personal decision, and members have drunk soda since its inception. Additionally, some want to avoid the negative health consequences of drinking soda. These include an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

What Is a Dirty Soda from Swig? 

Swig began in 2010 when Nicole Tanner opened her dirty soda shop in Saint George, Utah. She had visited a Sonic Drive-In and felt inspired to create a drive-by soda shop. Now Swig has locations in multiple states.

A couple of menu items include Spring Fling, which is Dr. Pepper, vanilla, strawberry puree, and coconut cream; and Cherry Bomb, which is Pepsi, cherry, coconut, vanilla, and cream. 

You can create your own dirty soda by choosing any soda and adding flavors, fruits, and creams available at Swig.

Are Dirty Soda Shops Worth Visiting? 

If you want a true Utah experience, visit a dirty soda shop. It’s a social drink without alcohol that can be made however you like. 

The playful names and indulgent tastes make it feel like you’re partaking in a secret vice. So the next time you’re in the Salt Lake City area, visit a Swig or Sodalicious location and try one of these delicious treats yourself.

If you live on the eastern side of the country, you may want to return to open up your own dirty soda shop. Which concoction will be your favorite?

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