What Is ‘Dirty Soda’?

Pour me a nice cold glass of soda and milk!
Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

The TikTok algorithm serves me three types of videos: ones that make me say “Haha, I do that,” ones that make me say “Haha, I’d never do that,” and food. I unabashedly love fad food. whipped coffee? Hell yeah. Big Stinky Salads? Sure, why not! So when a bizarre concoction dubbed “dirty soda” made its way onto my For You page, I thought, Sounds terrible. I must try it.

You’re not going to believe me when I tell you this, but dirty soda, in its most basic form, is soda with milk in it. Yes, really. Throughout the 2010s, it grew in popularity among Utahans, where there’s a large Mormon population and, in turn, a large population of people looking for mocktails and Frappuccino alternatives. Those who closely practice Mormonism are not allowed alcohol and “hot drinks” (eg, coffee and tea). Soda, however? technically ok.

As some Utah residents explain on TikToksoda shops like swig and Sodalicious are a staple of the state. From what I gather, these shops are like a soda fountain on X Games mode. They serve dirty sodas with unique add-ins — cotton candy, chai spice, lavender — alongside fitting treats like cookies topped with Fruity Pebbles. The dirty soda business is booming—in Mormon country, at least. But what brought the beverage to TikTok? Eater credits Olivia Rodrigo, who posted an Instagram of herself at a Swig location back in December. Her beverage of choice from her is unclear — perhaps something… Sour — though it does seem fitting for a 19-year-old to be innocently sipping on some weird, nonalcoholic drink.

The concept of milk mixed with soda isn’t entirely new to me. I have a vague childhood memory of a friend telling me about liking their Diet Coke with milk. However, this would have been around the same time I thought sex was something that only involved your hands, so I don’t totally trust my adolescent memory. Anyway, despite every instinct in my body, I recently made myself some dirty soda.

The three base ingredients of any dirty soda are soda, milk or creamer, and a general trust in the process. From there, you can add whatever other mix-ins you want: Flavored syrup. Coconut cream. The last of your inhibitions. Fresh lime. My mind is telling me this seems like something that should curdle on contact. However, my body has already consumed half the glass.

I come before you a woman humbled by her preconceived notions because, folks, dirty soda is delicious. It’s sweet, obviously. The ingredients are essentially liquid sugar, creamy sugar, sour sugar, and carbonation. That will likely put you off more than the addition of milk or creamer. (I used non-dairy creamer lest I ruin my … everything, and it still worked perfectly fine.) The combination works, but I’m not sure why I’m so surprised. Dirty soda is pretty much just a melted ice cream float. It’s probably not going to replace a cocktail or latte in my diet, but it’s a fun little party trick I’ll pull out the next time I need to make things interesting. You want to hear strongly held opinions about inconsequential topics? Say the words “soda with milk in it.”

Here are the combinations I tried inspired by the Swig menu and my own kooky brain. Use this information wisely:

  • Orange soda, plain coffee creamer, and coconut cream: By and large my favorite. At 10/10. It’s nostalgic! It’s pretty! It tastes like a melted orange Creamsicle! I would drink this constantly if the sweetness didn’t make my stomach ache on contact.
  • Diet coke and coffee creamA: Not bad. It tastes a little like a melted Coke float. Admittedly, it’s kind of underwhelming after the Creamsicle, but as they say in the business, this one’s very drinkable.
  • Mountain Dew, coconut syrup, pomegranate juice, creamer, fresh lime: Did I fly too close to the dirty-soda sun? Perhaps, but this is essentially the Endless Summer drink on the Swig menu, and I wanted to get as authentic as I could. This one was surprisingly good, like melted rainbow sherbet. It was at this point in the experiment my teeth started to hurt.

If you still aren’t convinced but want to be part of Soda TikTok, there’s always the trend where you try to chug a whole bottle of Sprite without burping. (Most people fail miserably.) Perhaps that won’t be quite as offensive as the concept of milk and soda.

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