“Dirty sodas” don’t have to contain alcohol—in fact, most of them don’t! Just ask anyone from Utah. The state has its own thriving soda culture, with specialized create-your-own beverage stores like Swig and Sodalicious, where you can make your own flavored sodas, aka “dirty sodas.” I’m not just talking about basic add-ins like raspberry bits and lemon juice. Dirty soda drinkers are spicing up their bubbly beverages with tons of interesting flavors and textures. And although dirty soda culture may have originated in Utah, it’s becoming popular all over the country (largely thanks to TikTok). So if you want to step up your soda pop game, here are some mix-ins you should try.
Adding peanuts to soda is more common in the southern parts of the U.S. Esquire praised this soda additive, comparing it to strawberries in champagne. Apparently, salted peanuts are the way to go, adding a savory aspect (I imagine sort of like a sports drink). According to Mythical merchandise graphic designer Caleb Hartsfield, when you add a handful of salted peanuts to Coke, it makes the Coke foam a little bit, creating a sweet and salty froth. The peanuts also add a snack element to drinking, kind of like boba in milk tea. Who doesn’t love fishing for a fun little snack at the bottom of your beverage?
Candy (Gummy Bears, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Watermelons)
Using a Twizzler or a Red Vine as a straw makes complete sense when drinking something like a Pepsi or a Coke. But why stop there? Gummy bears and Sour Patch Kids are two candies you might want to consider adding to your soda. Key Mythical set P.A. Mikayla Barnes likes to add Sour Patch Watermelons to her pineapple Fanta because the candy soaks up the drink, giving it a unique new flavor. She also likes that the candy makes the drink a little sweeter once it marinates for a while. Mmm, marinated soda candy.
My mom’s favorite summer soda is a three-to-one mix of Squirt and Coke topped with a sprinkle of salt (or even rimmed with salt like a margarita if she’s adding alcohol to it). The salt draws out the citrusy notes of the Squirt, which makes it “truly feel like summer time,” she says. Adding a touch of salt can also make soda a little more palatable to people like myself who don’t regularly consume soda because it’s so damn sweet.
If you want to give your beverage a glow-up, maple and other varieties of syrup can transform a Plain Jane soda to a Saucy Sarah in moments. Pepsi and IHOP know all about this, as they recently released a limited edition Maple Syrup Cola (which only a lucky few customers got to try). Other fans of syrupy soda prefer to add grenadine, like Mythical’s own short form content producer Greg Johnson. Greg said he enjoys adding pomegranate-flavored syrup to Pepsi because of the unique flavor and the ability to control the sweetness level. Pomegranate Pepsi feels like the more sophisticated cousin of a cherry Coke, and that is definitely something I can get behind.
Utah’s soda shops have lengthy menus with all kinds of things you can choose to put in your soda, from blue cotton candy to gummy sharks. But the thing that catches my attention the most is coffee creamer. In Yelp reviews of Sodalicious, people are raving about their “extra dirty” Diet Cokes mixed with half-and-half and coconut syrup, or Dr. Peppers mixed with white chocolate and creamer. One Sodalicious loyalist described adding half-and-half to soda as “just to die for,” and now I’m pining for one all the way from SoCal. One thing that keeps me from consuming an alarming amount of soda is its sharpness (McDonald’s Sprite, anyone?), so muting that with cream sounds wonderful and inviting!