Every few months, new food and beverage trends pop up on social media. In 2020, there was Dalgona whipped coffee. In spring 2022, feta cheese sales were through the roof when whipped feta made its rounds on TikTok. And now, in 2024, the dirty soda craze has arrived — well, spread. 

While a large group of influencers and content creators are just now hearing of them, plenty of other people, particularly those in Utah, have sipped dirty sodas for more than a decade now. 

 

 What Is Dirty Soda?

A dirty soda is a drink made of a carbonated beverage, flavored syrups or juices, and cream. While we don't know for sure who invented the beverage or coined the term, industry giants Swig and Sodalicious both claim their companies were the first to sling these sodas in the mid-2010s. They even went to court over the matter in a trial that ended with each Utah-founded company paying its own legal bills and no details of the settlement terms released. 

Dirty sodas first rose to popularity in Utah, largely thanks to the state's population of Mormons, whose religious beliefs don't permit them to drink alcoholic beverages or coffee. However, the drink's reach has since expanded outside of Utah, and dirty soda vendors are opening up new locations nationwide. 

Some big brands have even caught wind of the dirty soda trend and jumped on the bandwagon by creating products like a coffee creamer specifically formulated for soda or a soda-milk drink. 

 

What Are the Most Popular Dirty Soda Flavors?

The list of possible dirty soda flavors is long, as there are countless flavor syrup options available to consumers. Dirty soda drinkers often choose flavors like coconut, vanilla, orange, strawberry, cherry, pineapple, and blue raspberry. Those with more adventurous taste buds may experiment with more unusual flavor syrups, like banana, apple, or pistachio. 

Some dirty soda drinkers don't limit themselves solely to flavor syrups. They also turn to fruit juices and purees for flavor, with strawberry puree and mango juice among the most popular — not to mention refreshing! — picks. 

 

 Dirty Soda Combinations to Try

One of the most popular dirty soda combinations is often touted as the original version of the drink. It involves pouring cola, coconut-flavored coffee creamer, and fresh or bottled lime juice over ice — the consensus seems to say crunchy pebble ice is best here. 

This is the variation of the drink that went viral on TikTok. However, dirty soda drinkers are concocting and sharing plenty of other dirty soda ideas. Some noteworthy creations:

  • Sugar Cookie: Lemon-lime soda + coconut creamer + almond syrup

  • Raspberry Dream: Raspberry puree + lemon-lime soda + cream

  • Blue Raspberry: Blue raspberry syrup or puree + lemon-lime soda + cream 

  • Peach: Peach puree + lemon-lime soda + cream

  • Strawberry Shortcake: Strawberry puree + lemon-lime soda + cream 

 

Dirty Soda Variations

Most classic dirty soda recipes involve pairing a soda and a coffee creamer with a few pumps of flavored syrup. But as the dirty soda craze grows, the recipe evolves. Several variations of the standard dirty soda ingredients.

 

Energy Drink-Based

Regular soda is the typical go-to for dirty soda drinkers. However, any carbonated beverage will do, including a caffeine-filled energy drink. Making this the base of the beverage provides consumers with a caffeinated twist that's perfect for non-coffee drinkers who need an extra dose of pep in their steps. 

 

Related: Top Gen Z Food and Beverage Preferences

 

Sparkling & Flat Water-Based

In recent years, many people have decided to forego consumption of soda. They're acknowledging that dialing down their soda habits can be beneficial to their health, as too much of the fizzy drink can increase the risk of health problems such as weight gain and obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and dental problems. 

But someone who has cut or lowered their soda intake might still want a drink that's more interesting than plain water or juice. Non-soda drinkers don't have to miss out on the dirty soda trend. Instead, they can enjoy a version of the beverage made with sparkling water. Even flat water will do, though it won't create the beverage's characteristic bubbles.

 

Half & Half or Other Creamer Variants

The original dirty soda from Utah typically uses coffee creamer. However, substituting another creamy ingredient, like half & half or something plant-based, is becoming more common. 

The idea of straying from regular coffee creamer may seem odd. But the products frequently used in dirty sodas — half and half, alternative milk, or heavy cream, for example — often go in cups of coffee, just as creamer does. Consumers are finding that if the alternative creamers work in coffee, they'll work in dirty soda combinations, too.

 

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Is the Dirty Soda Trend Here to Stay? 

The short answer is, we think so. Dirty soda isn't explicitly listed on many restaurant and café menus — yet. But more establishments have begun selling drinks like Italian cream soda and French soda, which implies customers are interested in branching out and steering away from traditional sodas. 

That dirty soda has gotten so popular on social media, especially among sober and sober-curious internet users, is another promising factor, showing potential for the beverage to become an even bigger sensation. It also helps that dirty soda ingredients aren't hard to source. Because sodas, creams, and flavor add-ins are so easily accessible, businesses shouldn't have any issues adding dirty sodas to their menus. 

 

Dirty Soda Benefits

A business can benefit from offering its customers dirty soda, even if they give it another name. Market research confirms that consumers are highly interested in having unique, nonalcoholic beverage options available, and dirty sodas meet that need. 

In a dirty soda concept test that experimented with four different dirty soda beverages and customers' perceptions of each, the one specifically called a dirty soda had the highest overall composite score and overall purchase intent. One beverage was called a "Pi-No Colada," and despite being nonalcoholic, had the lowest ratings. 

The research backs our original statements: people want dirty sodas, and they are less interested in alcohol or anything resembling it than in previous years. 

Attempting to meet these specific needs provides businesses an opportunity to boost sales among current customers while attracting new ones. But higher earning potential isn't all a dirty soda launch can create. Adding these trendy treats to a menu creates opportunities to

  • Experiment with unusual flavor combinations and unique marketing campaigns

  • Capitalize on viral social media recipes and create innovative items based on them

  • Utilize milk alternatives and attract a new group of customers

 

Embrace Dirty Soda Drinks

Members of the Mormon church have created flavorful dairy-soda concoctions for years now, but they can't take the credit for first combining dairy with soda. After all, the classic ice cream soda, the root beer float, and the egg cream have been around for more than a century! 

While dirty soda isn't a new phenomenon, the massive embrace of it is, thanks to social media platforms. Millions of users have tried it for several reasons — they wanted a nonalcoholic beverage, they wanted something caffeinated that wasn't coffee, or they saw another creator try it and were curious — and as a result, dirty soda took the world by storm. 

The beverage is distinctive, and consumers like it. Dirty soda concept test results show a high overall purchase intent and composite score. The dirty soda trend has gained noticeable momentum this year, and based on the data, the crisp, creamy treat has plenty of potential to maintain it. 

 

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