Because Regular Soda is Just So Boring
It’s 6:15am and the drive through line has already begun forming at Sips in Clearfield, Utah. Customers are craving their favorite morning drink which clearly outsells coffee. Beginning at 6:30am when Sips opens, customers are ordering “Dirty Soda”; a combination of flavored syrups added to soda of all types. Because it’s apparently just too boring to get a plain Diet Coke or Sprite.
By adding coconut syrup, vanilla syrup, and half-and-half to any soda of your choice, you would have a “Snowcap”, one of Sips most popular morning beverages, explains Manager Lainey Keller. Customers visiting Sips later in the day might crave a fruitier “Sunset” drink containing mango puree and pineapple syrup with soda, she added.
The craze for Dirty Soda, shared evenly across the board by young and old alike, is growing as fast as weeds in a spring garden.
“Utah might not be the home of dirty soda, but it was definitely the birthplace,” offers Kandace Keddington, manager of Fiiz Drinks in West Valley, Utah, which opened five years ago. Inspired by the Mormon culture, which primarily abstains from drinking alcohol and caffeine, dirty soda is considered perhaps a welcome substitute to the latter.
The first dirty soda location ever, opened in April of 2010 by Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah, according to internet research. When another dirty soda shop, Swig, opened in St. George a few years ago, high school senior Savannah Weber, 18, remembers being intrigued by the menu. “I tried a Dr. Pepper with coconut,” she said. Today she orders Mountain Dew with raspberry puree and mango. While she still drinks regular soda, if given the choice, she’d rather have a dirty one.
While the demand for dirty soda is outrageous, the price to buy one isn’t too unreasonable. Depending on what size you order (which can vary between 12 and 44 ounces), drink prices range from $1.50 up to $4, $5 or $6. And, according to both Keller and Keddington, customers aren’t too concerned about weight gain or medical issues such as diabetes when it comes to drinking dirty soda, as sugar free or diet versions of all drinks are also available.
At Fiiz Drinks, topping the list as a customer favorite is the “Lime in the Coconut” beverage which contains coconut syrup, two wedges of fresh lime and whatever soda you may be craving at the moment. Second in demand is the coveted “Chandler Bing” drink which contains coconut syrup, strawberry syrup and pineapple syrup with Mountain Dew, Keddington said. Syrup quantities for all drinks directly coincide with the size of drink you order.
While it was hard for Fiiz Drinks to quantify the number of customers it serves monthly, Sips estimates at least 200 customers are served each week at their Clearfield store which opened a year ago. However, the Sips store in Bountiful, Utah, is their top seller and serves a substantially higher number of customers, Keller said. The busiest days at both Sips locations are Friday through Sunday, with store hours averaging between 14 to 16 per day.
Not all dirty soda stores offer a substantial food menu. Some opt to offer only snack foods such as popcorn, cookies or pretzels, while others offer breakfast sandwiches or a sandwich of the day. However, any food probably tastes better while enjoying your favorite dirty soda along with it, Keddington states. “It’s more about the drink than it is about the food. On a scale of one to 10, I’d like to think customers like our drinks at a ‘10’!”
Subscribe to Utah Stories weekly newsletter and get our stories directly to your inbox