written by: Addison Doxey
On a Friday morning in May of 2014, Albert P. Carey, the President of Pepsi, made a surprise visit to the tiny 250 sq. ft. Sodalicious location in Provo to see what all the buzz was about. After being served a specialty Mountain Dew concoction known as the “Extra Dirty 2nd Wife,” Carey exclaimed, “That is the best thing I have ever tasted!”
Specialty soda shops have saturated the Utah market in last few years. Practicing the art of baking delicious cookies and crafting hundreds of specialty soda flavors, these retro soda fountains have created a new type of social drinking in the Beehive State. Utah’s two most popular shops, Sodalicious and Swig, have intensely loyal customers. What exactly makes these two companies so different? Both have the same types of sodas on tap, sell similar baked goods and even share some branding similarities. “It is way more than just a fountain drink to our customers and to us,” says Swig founder Nicole Tanner, “It’s a Swig connection.” This loyalty doesn’t stem from a deep fondness of one shop’s soda flavors over the other’s, but rather the social experience behind it.
When asked why they preferred Sodalicious or Swig, two soda lovers gave a similar response. “I first tried Swig, so that’s why I’m loyal to them,” says Kassie Hymas, a student at BYU. “I have a ‘usual,’ and they know it when I walk in.” For Sodalicious lover Sarah Burgoyne, it has become her go-to for any occasion, “I started going to Sodalicious with my old roommate, and then we would go with all of our other friends; it became a social event” she says.
How successful are these soda businesses? Both companies declined to comment when asked about the revenue of their soda sales (in part due to a recently settled lawsuit over the word “dirty” both companies use to describe their syrup-flavored drinks), but an averaging of soda sales alone for both companies yields a minimum of $25,000 a month. That figure does not including branded merchandise or cookies, of which Swig sells over 1,000 in a single day. Sodalicious even claims they sell enough soda in a year to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.
So which soda fountain will you become your new hangout? Whichever shop you choose, just share a drink or a cookie with someone you love—and possibly a blood sugar test, too.
LOCAL FAVORITE RECIPE
AK Special – Dr Pepper with coconut and vanilla syrups
2nd Wife – Mountain Dew with blood orange and mango syrups
Just Friends – Diet Coke with pineapple and coconut syrups
Dirty Dr. Pepper – Dr Pepper with coconut syrup
Big Al – Diet Coke with coconut syrup and a lime wedge
Raspberry Dream – Dr Pepper with raspberry purée and coconut cream