You Can Thank Mormonism For Dirty Soda

If you're one of the 1 billion people worldwide with a TikTok account (according to Search Logistics), you may have heard of dirty soda. Back in December 2021, "Good 4 U" singer Olivia Rodrigo posted an Instagram photo of herself enjoying the drink — which consists of soda, cream, and a variety of fruits and syrups served over pebble ice — and shortly afterward, the idea went viral. Since then, a mix of Diet Coke, coconut creamer, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a pump of coconut syrup has been a popular pick.

Yet, even though Rodrigo and the TikTok app may be responsible for the resurgence in the drink's popularity, it's really Mormonism that is to thank for the invention. For a long time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prohibited its followers from consuming caffeine and alcohol. In 2012, this rule was tweaked a bit when the Church adjusted the doctrine to allow the consumption of caffeinate in cold drinks like soda, leading the way for a drink like dirty soda.

While its exact origins are unknown, most credit its invention to Nicole Tanner, who opened a dirty soda shop called Swig in Utah in 2010 that, soon after, started serving the beverage. Since Mormons are prohibited from drinking coffee and tea, caffeinated dirty soda skyrocketed in popularity in Utah, where 42% of the population practices the faith, according to the Journal of Religion and Demography.

Dirty soda riffs off other creamy, fizzy drinks

While dirty soda certainly owes some of its popularity to TikTok, the drink has far surpassed "trend" status and has taken on a life of its own in the real world. Currently, the Utah-based operation Swig, among the first to serve the drink, has over 50 locations in the U.S. and recently announced that 250 more are in the works. But, Swig isn't the only one finding success with dirty soda — big fast food brands like Sonic and Jack in the Box currently offer, or are planning to offer, their own version of the drink. They've used names like "Twisted Sodas" to keep from running into any copyright issues with Swig, which has since trademarked the phrase "dirty soda."

The popularity of this drink isn't too surprising — if you think about it, dirty sodas have been around for centuries, albeit with different names and in slightly different forms. Ice cream floats, which are a mix of soda (usually root beer) and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, have been popular in the U.S. since the late 1800s. Italian sodas, made of club soda, syrup, and half-and-half, have also been around for almost a century. Even egg creams (which confusingly don't contain either of those ingredients) are reminiscent of a dirty soda, made with seltzer water, chocolate syrup, and milk.

How to make dirty soda at home

You don't have to visit Sonic or Swig to get your dirty soda fix. Instead, you can make it at home. All you'll need is some soda, creamer, and your choice of fruit and syrup. Start with a glass of ice — preferably pellet or nugget ice, but any form will do (you can even add flavored iced cubes to jazz things up).

Next, add a syrup of your choice to the cup of ice. Coconut syrup and lime juice should be added if you're making the original dirty soda flavor, but strawberry, pineapple, and raspberry syrup are also popular options. Top all that off with your soda of choice. If you want to make a classic dirty soda, use Coke or Diet Coke, but Sprite, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper are also options as seen on the menu at Swig. Finally, add heavy cream to your drink, stir, and enjoy.

If you're a Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple fan, try a mix of cherry Coke, vanilla syrup, and cream. If you'd prefer something even sweeter, try a mix of butterscotch syrup, root beer, and half-and-half for a Harry Potter butter beer-inspired sip. Or, if you're looking for something even easier, try Coffeemate's new Dirty Soda Coconut Lime Flavored Creamer — just pour it over a glass of Dr. Pepper with ice and get to sippin'.