TikTok's Dirty Soda Trend Pre-Dates Prohibition, In A Way

In the modern world, where fashions and fads seem to disappear as quickly as they came, it's easy to forget that American history is full of crazes that have come and gone. Although folks in the early-to-middle 1900s lived in a world a bit different than ours, certain fads seem to still be going strong even today.

For example, you may recall that, not long ago, people were following the fad of "planking." which BBC News describes as "lying face down in a public place — the stranger the better." Although this may seem to be the invention of bored teenagers in the 2000s, it sounds strangely similar to the act of "flagpole sitting," a sort of endurance test popular in the 1920s that had trendsetters sitting on top of flagpoles for hours or even days at a time (via Ripley's Believe It or Not!). Certain trends may be products of their time, but some still exist today — just in different forms.

Another such trend is "dirty soda," something you might have seen on TikTok before. The Huffington Post describes dirty soda as cups of ordinary brands of soda that are topped with milk, cream, and different types of syrups. The trend isn't just popular on TikTok, but in the Mormon communities as well, according to The Washington Post.  But where exactly did dirty soda come from? TikTok? The Mormons? Perhaps the answer lies in the classic American institution known as a "soda fountain." 

Dirty sodas were born in American soda fountains

Americans love soda. It's true today just as it was in the 19th century. Every small town drugstore or pharmacy had its own soda fountain, a type of machine that, similar to the modern soda dispenser, filled customers' glasses up with sweet, carbonated liquid. Soderland Drugstore Museum speculates that the reason for their popularity is that Prohibition in the 1900s meant that, without alcohol, people found hanging out at the soda fountain in the local drugstore to be a good alternative for the bar. But what does a soda fountain in the 1900s have to do with a TikTok trend about soda?

You see, sodas during that time period were a bit different than the Coke and Pepsi we know today. It was common for soda to be sweetened with different kinds of syrups or cream to make a sweeter or tarter drink. Newspapers.com tells us that ice creams and even egg phosphates were used to make a creamier, frothier drink, such as "egg creams" or a particularly abstract kind of milkshake. Much like how dirty sodas are flavored with different kinds of juices and syrup, it was popular to order a soda that could be sweetened with lemon-flavored syrup and topped with your choice of ice cream.

The original recipe for dirty soda, Eater tells us, is Diet Coke flavored with lime juice, coconut syrup, and half-and-half. But you can feel free to dirty your soda however you want.