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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Can of Worms — Episode 8: Soda Shops

In this episode of Can of Worms, we explore a plethora of Utah’s famous soda shops! What makes these places so alluring and so popular here?
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)
Cambria: We are now recording in the pod booth.

Cambria: We are now recording in the pod booth.

Elle: You guys look so thrilled to be here.

Cambria: I’m so glad, you — truly, the energy is out of this world.

Mary: I’m sorry, I was chewing.

Elle: Guys, I have resigned from my previous post and I’m now back to making podcasts full-time.

Cambria: It’s true. Previously, I have stated in the podcast that I beat Elle in trial by combat and now they’re back! Because we, you know —

Margot: A second trial.

Elle: We’ve made up.

Cambria: We’ve made up, we’ve gotten over it, even though I brutally defeated you and took your place as producer and you went on to do better things.

Mary: That’s awesome.

Cambria: That is what happened in the — in Chrony canon, that is how it went down.

Elle: Actually, yes.

Mary: You don’t sound bitter at all. I’m just kidding.

Elle: It’s been so long since I’ve been in the booth.

Cambria: Yeah, how does it feel to be back?

Elle: Pretty awesome. We are kind of missing someone. I can’t put my finger on who exactly that is. But I’m just feeling a presence.

Cambria: I don’t — what do you mean?

Elle: I don’t know. It’s like some blonde guy who really likes birds. But he’s not here. It’s sad. Anyway, welcome to another episode of Can of Worms.

[Intro Music]

Cambria: We’re back at it again. Here with some very special guests. We filled up the booth this time for you.

Elle: We’ve got our overall boss, Editor-in-Chief Margot Reynolds, would you like to introduce yourself?

Margot: Hello, I’m Margot. I’m a senior studying biology and medical anthropology and a bunch of other stuff. And I’m the Editor-in-Chief for the Chrony this year. I used to be the copy director. So I don’t — I haven’t like written a lot of things that you can go read. But I’ve read everything that we’ve produced in like the last three years. So that’s awesome.

Cambria: And next up if you would like to introduce yourself.

Mary: Hi, guys. My name is Mary Allen. I also work at the Chronicle. I’m our Design Director. I also dabble in photography, and now podcasting. So I’m a triple threat. Anything else?

Cambria: Design, photography, podcasting, that’s the —

Mary: Literally nothing relating to news, actually.

Elle: Can you sing a little song for us?

Mary: Do you have any requests?

Elle: No, just whatever.

Margot: [whispering] “Outside,” by George Michael.

Mary: Oh, I don’t know that one, I don’t know it off the top of my head. I can do George Michael though.

Margot: [still whispering] Amazing.

Cambria: Oh, wait. Are we gonna be allowed to keep this in?

Elle: Yes.

Cambria: Okay, great.

Mary: [singing] Tonight, the music sings so loud. I wish that we could lose this crowd. [no longer singing] There’s more where that came from. If you hit my line after you listen to this. I’m just kidding. That won’t get copyrighted because it bears no resemblance to the original song.

Elle: Fun fact about Mary that the audience might not know is she actually designs like most of our podcast designs, like, like 90%.

Cambria: Have you done all of our specific —

Mary: I took over this last spring.

Elle: Previous to that, Sydney.

Mary: Yeah, Sydney used to that. Shout out Sydney — I doubt you’re listening to this because I know you have better things to do. But if you are listening to this, I love you.

Cambria: Okay. All four of our listeners are very dedicated.

Mary: Sydney if you’re one of them, I love you.

Elle: So what gathers us all here today in the podcasting booth?

Mary: Say it with me on three. One, two, three:

Everyone: [discordant] Soda!

Cambria: Yes! We are here to talk about soda shops and the sort of culture and the billions of them there are here in Utah. Yeah. Are you guys soda people?

Mary: You could say that, yeah.

Elle: Honestly, before moving here, no. And then I moved here and now I feel like I drink an insane amount of soda.

Margot: That’s how I feel. Like I’m from Seattle, and I feel like people just don’t drink as much soda there as they do here.

Elle: Mary, could you maybe enlighten us about where you work?

Mary: I, I am not going to name the soda shop. But I do happen to work at one. This is actually the second and a half soda shop I have ever worked at. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, a college student who still works at a soda shop? And I answer you this. There are a lot of us, okay, we’re just silent. But, um, no, I do work — I do work at a soda shop. I’ve also been born and raised in Utah my whole life and well, I’ll be honest the rise of soda and the whole Utah culture around it is fairly recent. It is something I have had the weird opportunity of observing. I remember in eighth grade, I could barely drink a can of Dr. Pepper. And now — look at me now.

Cambria: We’ve come so far a little foreshadowing for all of the —

Mary: Not for the best, but you know.

Elle: I think as someone who comes from out of state, coming here and then seeing that there is literally like a drive-thru place where you can get a little soda treat —

Mary: Or a big one.

Elle: It’s — it’s jarring.

Cambria: I would say they are rather large treats.

Elle: They’re, yeah.

Cambria: I mean, like, I moved here, and I would say that I have — I drink less soda now.

Elle: Really?

Cambria: Yeah.

Elle: Interesting.

Cambria: That might be for other reasons. I just didn’t like — I’m going for other stuff. I don’t want to be — I don’t want to be —

Elle: I’m trying new things.

Cambria: I’m trying — I’m trying, you know, I’m trying to quit.

Elle: Um, but yeah, I guess that’s why me and Margot, were like, you know what would be — I’ve had this one on the pitch document for a very long time, actually, ever since I began my time, my tenure, as you could say, in podcasting at the Chrony.

Cambria: It’s been on the top of the list.

Elle: It’s literally been on the top of our pitch document —

Cambria: It might be the very first one that we put on it.

Elle: It was! I was like, I need to do a soda episode.

Cambria: And then, immediately, we’re like, nah, we like shrimp instead.

Elle: Yeah, literally.

Cambria: And burritos, and D&D and anything else that’s not soda shops.

Elle: Literally. Anything else. But today, we have gathered to ask the question: Why? Why are there soda shops in Utah?

Margot: And which is the best?

Elle: And which is the best? Because that’s really important to the story, honestly.

Mary: That is true.

Elle: I love to rank things. What can I say? I love a tier list. I love giving things one out of five stars like one to five on the scale.

Mary: I think that’s beautiful.

Elle: I’m just — I love a pyramid. What can I say?

Cambria: And we love to rank things and then tell you, our wonderful listeners, what we think.

Mary: So you don’t have to waste your time.

Cambria: So you don’t have to. Yeah.

Mary: Yeah. But, please do because each of these stops was a wonderful experience.

Cambria: If you have time and money that is getting comped to go buy hundreds of sodas, then you should do it.

Mary: I wish you could see the cup waste.

Cambria: Maybe the cover photo is just the photo of —

Elle: For the first time in Can of Worms history, we will be actually including pictures in the show notes for this episode, because I have like four pictures of like 50 cans — or 50 cans, excuse me — 50 cups of soda on top of Margot’s car, so … I feel like the public needs to see that.

Mary: Because how many places did we stop?

Cambria: Six.

Elle: Six, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves!

Mary: Six times four. You do the math, it was a lot of soda.

Elle: Plus pretzels.

Margot: And plus pretzels.

Mary: Plus pretzels.

Margot: Well, so first, we had everyone pick a drink to get at every place. So I had Dr. Pepper with raspberry and coconut cream.

Mary: I was Diet Coke with lime.

Elle: I was just kind of any Mountain Dew drink with some sort of fruit — fruit puree in it.

Cambria: And I was any energy drink that had “mountain” or “man” or “monster,” you get it. Which, really, in retrospect was a bad idea. Because I’m not an energy drink drinker. And so it ruined me.

Mary: Yeah.

Margot: Your energy level like actually noticeably changed.

Cambria: There was an active dip. There was — I came back up. There was a point where I was having cold sweats.

Mary: Yeah.

Elle: Wow.

Mary: I did have the privilege — oh, sorry, I interrupted you.

Cambria: No, no, no, go ahead.

Mary: I had the privilege of sitting next to Cambria during this drive, and she was vibrating the entire time.

Cambria: It’s true.

Mary: She was shaking, and she did wait three drinks in to let us know that she doesn’t usually drink caffeine that often.

Cambria: You know, energy drinks, specifically, I can do caffeine pretty well. But I should have you know, waited until I tried to quit until after this. You know?

Mary: Yeah, no, listen, it was awesome.

Cambria: It was a great time.

Mary: It was awesome.

Cambria: I had a good time.

Mary: I wouldn’t take any of it back

Cambria: My body didn’t have a good time, but I … would do anything for content. Anyway, let’s get into it!

Elle: Let’s talk about our first shop that was on our route. The classic, the iconic, the original —

Margot: The original —

Mary: [singing] Swiiiiiig!

Margot: I have a brief history of Swig to share.

Elle: Oh my god!

Cambria: Incredible.

Elle: Another — another fun fact about Margot that I think the audience should know is she loves Wikipedia.

Cambria: Oh my gosh! And she should.

Margot: Okay.

Cambria: Are you an editor on Wikipedia?

Margot: No, I’m working with the courage to make my first edit.

Elle: Can you tell us what your editing niche would be if you were a Wikipedia editor?

Margot: People’s personal lives. Like celebrities.

Cambria: If you ever do, like — have the courage to, will you come guest star on our podcast again?

Margot: Yeah.

Elle: Margot, can you give us a brief rundown?

Margot: Yes.

Elle: Of Swig’s history.

Margot: So in 2010, a woman named Nicole Tanner and her husband opened the first Swig store. It was in St. George Utah, which is like a little bit more deserty. And she said she opened it because she liked going to Sonic for drinks, but she didn’t like having to wait in line behind people who are ordering food because it takes longer. So she opened the first soda-only store and opened a second one also in St. George in 2011. And then, over the next couple of years, they expanded into Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas and then in November 2022, they sold the company to the Larry H. Miller Company.

Elle: Wait. Larry H. Miller.

Margot: Yeah. That’s why That’s why the Megaplex hasn’t because it’s the Larry H. Miller Megaplex.

Elle: Are you serious?

Margot: Yeah. And so it’s a majority stake. So the other — it’s also, so — sorry, hold on, I got out of order. So she founded it in 2010. Then in 2011, they opened the second store. In 2017, they sell — Nicole Tanner sold the store to a restaurant management firm. And then they expanded after that into Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas. And right now, they have 53 locations in, I guess in — well, I know they have some in Arizona — so in several states, and it says right now they have 250 new locations planned. And they just most — according to Wikipedia, the most recent expansion was into San Antonio, Texas with three locations.

Elle: Are they primarily — you said Oklahoma — but they’re primarily like southwestern United States?

Margot: Yeah, it’s mostly like Utah and states touching Utah, but they’re slowly expanding into I think it’s into areas with high Mormon populations to be totally honest, like people who grew up in the Utah area and moved out and then like, I know Gilbert, Arizona has one has a really high LDS population. It’s people who like getting dirty soda when they’re at home. And so it’s, it’s successful there because people already like it.

Elle: Mary, as a like, soda shop expert, elite employee. What would you say your perception of people who primarily go to soda shops is? Is there like a demographic that they hit?

Mary: Yeah, you know, all the stereotypes about you know, the the moms who like to come through and get a giant Diet Coke for breakfast in the morning, I would say there’s a lot of truth to them. But there’s also a lot of dads too, to be fair, that they, they tend to drink more Mountain Dew, which is funny. But also there are people there — I would say over the years, I am cringing that I can even say that, the demographic is expanding because — and that’s something I noticed when I got to the U too. And it was the first time I’d been surrounded by kids who didn’t grow up here. They were all like, why would anyone drink too much soda, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, I’m three years in and they’re all doing the same thing, which is funny, and they all own like Stanleys, now, if you know what that is, like the big giant Stanley mugs. Like, it’s like, I remember I brought one of those to class and one girl told me it looked like I was carrying a tank around and we were just bonding over Stanley colors the other day, actually. So anyways, I’m just saying it’s interesting to see people kind of get engulfed in Utah culture through something like soda. Um, but yeah, I would say it’s a lot of people who are Mormon. Most of the people in the area of the shop I work in are Mormon. Anyways. Yeah. Anyways, is that?

Elle: That answers!

Mary: Okay, good.

Elle: Um, me personally before I moved here, I had no idea what a Swig was. And even like when I would visit family here, before I came to school, I still didn’t know what a Swig was. Because I wasn’t like actively looking for soda shops and nobody brought them up to me. And, yeah, I mean, like, my perception was based on like the TikToks I would see where it was like the Mormon mom and she would be like, when you go after church, to the Swig and you see four other people from your ward gettin’ a Diet Coke with lime too, and she looks embarrassed. That’s my perception of a Swig.

Mary: Okay, that’s actually so true. There’s a gas station. There’s — I won’t name this one either. I don’t know. I just feel weird about it. But there’s a gas station that has locations all around the neighborhood and there’s like plenty of them within the same whatever five square miles and they happen to have limes that you can put in your drink, which isn’t something that like a normal gas station has which is the appeal of a place like Swig or any other soda shop, you can get fixins and some gas stations have gotten smart and kind of added that amenity to their fountain area. So on a day like Sunday, where literally every soda shop is closed, you can go to any gas station ever and it will be full of people in their church clothes, filling up their 44-ounce tumblers or whatever. And getting their Diet Coke fix for the day and it’s hilarious to me. It’s like, genuinely a mob meeting in there of Mormons. It’s awesome.

Cambria: That’s crazy. I would agree with you. When I first moved here, not only did I not know what soda shops were, no one would tell me. And I’d be like, hey what’s Swig? And they’d be like, Oh, my gosh, Thirst! And they’d keep bringing up like the different names that are all very adjacent to each other.

Elle: Yeah.

Cambria: And at some point, I just gave up trying to figure it out until one of my friends was like, we’re going to get a treat. And I said, “What does that mean?” We drove through and I was like, I saw the menu and I said, “This is crazy.” It’s just sort of syrup.

Elle: It’s soda with syrup. And then sometimes they have pretzel bites, which was — my personal favorite part of our entire expedition was eating so many pretzel bites.

Mary: So many pretzel bites.

Cambria: The pretzels were great.

Margot: The thing that most of them have though, is like the classic like sugar cookies.

Elle: Yeah.

Margot: When Swig first started, I think that they were just like literally just soda and sugar cookies. My grandparents have a house in St. George and we would go there sometimes. And so my younger sibling like got obsessed with Swig when we went there one time, probably around 2010. And they used — I used to get these — to have like a blended chai tea drink. That was like so good. But they got rid of it, after like maybe two years. I miss — I miss my blended chai every time I go to Swig because it was really good.

Elle: I love a — I love a classic, iconic, Swig you know, like the the naming convention of like, some sort of drinking verb, Swig —

Mary: Thirst —

Cambria: FiiZ —

Margot: Quench.

Elle: Quench.

Margot: There’s Quench in Provo, we did not go to Quench.

Cambria: I’ve never heard of Quench.

Margot: I think it’s new.

Elle: Yeah.

Cambria: Is it cool?

Margot: It was pretty good. They had a bingo game.


Elle: So, Swig was first on our little road trip, which by the way we started — what time did we start? We started at like seven in the morning.

Margot: Yeah, I picked you up at like, seven.

Elle: Yeah, I got picked up at 7:30 from my humble abode.

Margot: And this — this was in an effort — this was in an effort to try and miss some of the lines that we were expecting.

Elle: Yeah, which by the way, we didn’t really run into any. I think maybe like —

Margot: Because it was Saturday.

Elle: I think it was because it was a Saturday and then also like, there’s just so many soda shops around that maybe like a couple years ago the lines are more of an issue but now there’s like 400 to choose from.

Cambria: And you put together a masterful route, Margot, so.

Mary: Yeah, Margot did do a great job.

Cambria: Fantastic driver extraordinaire.

Elle: Literally.

Cambria: Yeah, it was wonderful.

Elle: But yeah, first shop Swig, then we stopped at Splash.

[sound of straw slurping]

Elle: Which —

Mary: Splash!

Cambria: Incredible. Splash was iconic.

Elle: Iconic —

Cambria: Not like other girls.

Elle: No.

Mary: Amazing. Splash wasn’t like other girls.

Elle: We pulled up to Splash and we were like, is this a car wash? And the answer was yes. It was a car wash. It was also part soda shop so we pulled up to this drive-thru window. And then we literally could just like see inside this — like it was like a convenience store/auto shop.

Mary: You mean “splash” auto shop.

Elle: Splash auto shop. And I think this one was particularly memorable because they gave Cambria an entire monster with some sort of pomegranate juice in it and like radioactive —

Cambria: Yes. It truly glew — glew? It glowed in the dark.

Elle: It did.

Mary: Imagine a neon pink highlighter in a cup with a lime in it.

Elle: Literally.

Cambria: It’s what I put in my body.

Mary: And it tasted like that too, but in a good way.

Cambria: I really did like pomegranate.

Elle: I would have to say I do remember this one specifically because I ordered — I don’t remember exactly what I ordered, but I ordered Mountain Dew and Mountain Dew has like, like I love a Mountain Dew Baja Blast moment. You can still tell that it’s Mountain Dew in the base, you know? I drank this Mountain Dew and I could not tell — I could not tell you that it was Mountain Dew. It could have been any sort of like — there was just so much syrup in it. I could not tell what was going on.

Mary: They cheffed.

Elle: Literally.

Margot: I also think Splash took the longest it did take the longest.

Elle: It did take the longest.

Margot: We didn’t time anybody. But that one it felt like we were waiting for —

Cambria: We did spend the most time —

Elle: We were waiting there, we were like —

Cambria: We should have gone through a car wash.

Elle: We were absorbing our surroundings.

Margot: Yeah, it’s attached to a car wash and a gas station. And according to our advisor, Josh, it’s a really good car wash. Worth the expense.

Mary: I’ll say though, when Margot said that Splash was on the route. I was like Margot, what are you talking about? Why are we stopping at Splash? But I’d like to expand on that thought and say I’m so glad we did. If I ever find myself in need of anything in that area of town I will be stopping by again. It was highly unexpected. The Diet Coke was mediocre but the experience alone — sorry I spat on you — the experience was excellent.

Margot: This one also had like fancy nacho cheese with jalapenos.

Elle: Because they had like gas station, like queso going on but like the pretzel bites themselves were kind of mid.

Margot: Those were the ones that were like so like slippery, like butter. They were —

Mary: They were kind of dense.

Cambria: They were flying out of our hands. It was like trying to catch soap in a shower.

Mary: That is true.

Elle: Splash is — like correct me if I’m wrong, Splash is its own little deal, right? There’s only one Splash.

Mary: A mom and pop shop.

Elle: A mom and pop soda shop.

Mary: Aw.

Margot: I wanted to pick one that was like kind of like a stand-alone type. Just because like it’s — I just, I feel like Utah also, another piece of Utah culture is like copycat culture a little bit.

Elle: It’s true.

Margot: Like, there’s like, we get Chip and then we get Crumbl and then all of a sudden there’s 30 different cookie places.

Elle: And then they’re all suing each other.

Margot: Yeah.

Elle: Because nobody can decide who came first.

Margot: Actually, in 2015 Swig sued Sodalicious for saying their sodas were dirty soda because Swig said that they had it trademarked, and they took two years to resolve it and it was an undisclosed settlement. But Sonic is currently selling drinks called dirty soda. So it must not be something that Swig has actually trademarked.

Elle: Also, if you’re into little treat, little snack, Instagram like I am, I think the coffee creamer brand, I don’t remember what the name is. I think it’s —

Mary: Coffee-mate?

Elle: Coffee-mate has released or is going to release a dirty soda like coconut lime creamer to put specifically in Dr. Pepper.

Cambria: Wow.

Elle: Which, number one, they’re stealing Margot’s thing, but like second, kind of insane.

Cambria: The Chrony is going to sue.

Mary: Listener, if you’re listening to this, which I assume you are.

Cambria: Listener, if you’re listening.

Mary: Nothing will replace a fresh lime. Okay, if you’re new to whatever, a mix into your soda. Don’t listen to Coffee-mate. You need the real lime. Okay, you can use their coconut cream, though, it’s really good.

Elle: Have you put coconut cream, like the coffee creamer in soda before?

Mary: I have. We — in fact we do that the shop I work at. We have — we have their vanilla cream. We have half and half, and we have a coconut cream.

Elle: I see.

Mary: Yeah.

Elle: I mean yeah, that’s pretty much all there is to really say about Splash. It was goofy.

Mary: It was goofy.

Elle: Goofy.

Mary: Go — please, please try it.

Elle: Go support Splash.

Mary: If you see Splash on the road at any point, because you’re over there. Go, please.

[yet another straw slurp]

Elle: So we hit Splash, and then we decided to go back to our roots of the first stop.

Mary: Because you have to try out multiple Swig locations.

Elle: So we went to another Swig, and I remember this Swig had like — most — most soda shops don’t have like a lobby you can like hang out in but this one totally did. And it was kind of the vibes were a little unsettling for me, a little liminal. Because there was just us and the two workers and like a fountain soda machine and that was it.

Mary: And the sun was still rising.

Elle: Yeah.

Mary: They did have — their bathroom smelled amazing.

Elle: True.

Mary: And there were free tampons in it.

Cambria: Which is an absolute win.

Mary: Absolute win.

Margot: I will say every soda shop that has an inside that I’ve been inside, it’s like way too much space for like the number of tables that they have and then there’s never anybody else actually physically inside.

Elle: It always feels like an, I don’t know — I feel like when I go to another type of like restaurant or like a drive-thru or like if I somehow step in I expect it to smell like something but soda shops don’t smell like anything. Like if you go to a Dutch Bros it at least smells like coffee.

Margot: Yeah, why doesn’t it smell like the cookies?

Elle: I know! Exactly, right —

Mary: They don’t bake them on site.

[various gasps]

Cambria: Oh my gosh. Tea is being spilled on this podcast.

Mary: Sorry. I just — I thought that was something everyone knew. They do — most places you’ll ever go do not bake their cookies on site. They, they’re baked off site and then they come to you frozen.

Elle: I did work in a bakery. And I can confirm — except it was like a local bakery, so they just kind of like gave us them — but like yeah, they come in prepackaged.

Mary: They’re usually pretty fresh. Don’t worry listener. Don’t worry.

Elle: Don’t worry, dear listener. I wanted to make a bit of an observation about the type of ice that they use at the soda shops because they all like — the homemade cubed ice that you could get in your own fridge. No, no, no.

Margot: Terrible.

Elle: Terrible, boo snore, zero out of 10, bottom of the pyramid, F tier. What you need to properly enjoy a soda drink is the pebble ice. I feel like this is a really key component.

Cambria: Pebble ice is a Utah thing.

Elle: It is a Utah thing.

Mary: Is it really?

Cambria: And a Maverick thing.

Elle: It is a Maverick thing.

Margot: And a Sonic thing.

Elle: Maverick is a Utah based —

Cambria: And a Sonic thing.

Elle: There was nothing really that noticeable — noticeable? Notable about this Swig, it was pretty much exactly like the first Swig we went in, except for the addition of the dining area. Do you even call it a dining room? Like a Taco Bell, a Taco Bell will call their area a dining room. Have you seen that on like the top? It’s like —

Margot: Who’s dining at Taco Bell?

Cambria: Fine dining.

Elle: Me!

Mary: Me! Scrounging, thank you very much.

Elle: IHop dining room at 3:00 in the morning. Yeah, anyway, not very notable, kind of boo snore, we did start getting kid-sized drinks at this point. When possible —

Cambria: We tried.

Elle: Because if we didn’t get the kid-sized ones, the normal size is like 16 ounces at most places, which I don’t know about you, but like, I’m not trying to drink a gallon of soda a day.

Margot: Six 16-ounce sodas …

Mary: It was a lot.

Margot: … is a lot.

Mary: It was a lot.

Margot: It also took up less space in the car. And at this point, it wasn’t too big of a problem, but I could tell that it was going to become an issue.

Cambria: There is — a couple of epic videos of us panning around —

Elle: Around the car.

Cambria: Around the car. How many sodas were just — we just had in there.

Elle: Yeah.

Mary: I’ll admit it. I think I drank most of mine.

Elle: Anyway. Boo snore, third shop, second Swig, meh. Whatever.

[ice rattling]

Elle: We went to — afterwards we went to even another shop. How many did we end up going into in total? Six?

Margot: There were five different companies, six different stores.

Elle: The next one we hit was FiiZ. I remember the names of the FiiZ shop being particularly goofy, but kind of all of the names are really goofy.

Margot: That’s one thing about the shops is it’s like they pick a theme for their names, like Sodalicious is like movie — no —

Mary: They do —

Margot: Thirst is like movie-based, usually.

Mary: Sodalicious is really banking on the whole Utah thing.

Elle: Yeah, like NCMO.

Mary: It’s almost like they’re trying, yeah, they have like the NCMO, they have the Eternal Companion. Yeah, they have a the Mother in Law, the Monster in Law.

Elle: An amazing thing that I just learned by going on the FiiZ website is you can have soda delivered to you.

Margot: Which, the other thing about FiiZ — the other thing about FiiZ is that at least some of the locations are open on Sundays. Which is special for soda shops.

Elle: Are they are they not Mormon-owned?

Mary: You can also choose dine-in and takeout.

Margot: I think they’re just they’re aware that it’s a huge gap that they can fill.

Elle: Yeah.

Margot: ‘Cause yeah, most they’re open like for shorter time. The other thing that we should probably talk about is that most of these places are open like till 10 p.m.

Elle: Yeah, they’re open late.

Margot: People go get a soda at like 9:45 p.m. — like that that much sugar that late makes it really hard for me to sleep.

Mary: We were doing that in high school all the time.

Elle: That feels like such a teenage, “I’ll — I don’t have anything else to do. So I’m going to go to the soda shop.”

Cambria: That’s also another very Utah thing is that everything closes so early here.

Elle: It’s true. Everything does close by 10.

Cambria: So by proxy that being open at 10, it’s like, oh, we’re at let’s go to the one place it’s open.

Elle: Yeah, if you’re under 21 in Utah and you’re trying to find something to do after 10 p.m. it is literally almost impossible. But I wanted to pull up the menu for this one because I remember being particularly embarrassed to order this soda. Because the name was Chandler Bing! For the soda that I’m like, oh, I was like, “Can I get the small Chandler Bing please?” And I just felt so silly. Like I felt they’re like, I feel like the soda names — they’re just like trying to make me a little embarrassed while I order it.

Mary: The Gulp is awesome.

Elle: Um, there’s one called Xanadu I just found on the website, and there’s one called Wet Willy. If I had to order a Wet Willy I would — I would not say the name I would like —

Mary: Can I have a 44-ounce Wet Willy?

Cambria: Xanadu seems more believable to me. Have you guys seen “Xanadu?” The play or movie?

Elle: Is that the — is that the musical with the skate?

Cambria: Yeah.

Elle: I have heard of it. Because I love ’80s fashion. Anyway, my point is these are literally the worst names. I’m giving them negative points because of their names. I don’t know how like people can go in day after day and order with these, these goofy names. I also wanted to point out that FiiZ does Monster energy drinks. Some places will have a designated energy drink. Like Swig has its own brand of energy drink.

Margot: It’s like the Reviver.

Mary: Yeah, it’s like a mix-in. They do that. It has extreme amounts of caffeine. It’s like their energy drink.

Elle: Right, but like, like a FiiZ or like the Splash did a couple different types of energy drinks that were like just like — go buy them at the gas station if you want. I think the concept of like, I don’t know why it trips me up so much. I guess I did go to Sonic a lot as a high schooler to get little treats, but I feel like the idea of a little treat has become so much more — and maybe it’s just because of how old we are. But like, I’m going to spend a little $5 on a treat. I feel like it’s such a big thing and I feel like soda shops really just like play into that market so perfectly.

Mary: They fit the need. The need for a nice sweet treat. That’s the phenomenon right now. It’s like my sweet treat outfit. It’s sweet treat hour you know, I’m gonna get my little reward a sweet treat. Soda shops.

Elle: Soda shops.

Mary: And the nice thing about I think the pretzel thing filled the, like the savory aspect of it too because they think the idea of a you know, a 32-ounce, Mountain Dew drink and then a nice sugar cookie to top that off … it can sound a little migraine-inducing.

Elle: I think I did have a headache after our soda expedition.

Cambria: My body shut down.

Elle: Oh, for sure.

Cambria: Straight up.

Mary: If you were wondering if it’s a good idea to start your morning off with an empty stomach and 64 ounces of soda or high amounts of caffeine. The answer is no. We have living evidence.

Cambria: Barely living evidence.

Mary: Barely living evidence. Quaking, shaking, trembling evidence.

Elle: Crying, throwing up —

Cambria: Screaming, crying, throwing up, having to all do things afterwards.

Mary: Don’t do it.

Elle: Yeah.

Mary: Would not recommend, but we did it for you guys —

Cambria: Anything for content!

[straw up and down sounds]

Elle: Next on our little soda route, which was my personal favorite soda shop, not biased, was definitely Sodalicious. I would say I do remember that because I think the best drink I had was from Sodalicious.

Mary: I remember you really liked the Sodalicious drink.

Elle: I know.

Mary: What did you get? You got a Pool Boy, right?

Elle: I got a Pool Boy, which was like — It’s like the names were slightly better except for, I guess, the Your Mom drink at Sodalicious. But, yeah, no, I really liked my drink. It was like half and half and Mountain Dew and something else — oh, it was coconut! I’m a coconut stan. I would have to say.

Cambria: It looked funky crazy.

Elle: Oh, yeah.

Cambria: Half and half in a soda is always — will make you —

Elle: For non for non-Utah listeners, if that even exists for this very niche podcast episode — half and half in soda, in any carbonated drink, really, it doesn’t look good. It like — it looks good for a second and then it like curdles.

Mary: Yeah.

Elle: We started doing like when I — right before I quit my barista job, we started doing flavored Red Bulls, and we would occasionally put half and half in them and it was literally like — we’d have clear cups. No, terrible.

Margot: Yeah, I think that’s why most of the shops do Styrofoam cups.

Elle: Oh, yeah.

Margot: The first Swig we went to had clear cups. And I feel like that influenced my perception of the drink.

Elle: Yeah.

Margot: ‘Cause I liked my second Swig drink. But better, even though it was the same except for a smaller size, but the cup at that one was opaque. Like, it just — it doesn’t look as good.

Mary: Yeah, ’cause you were getting like the raspberry puree drink, right?

Margot: Yeah, I always get the puree and half and half.

Mary: Puree always looks wacky. It has half and half and puree?

Margot: Yeah.

Mary: Oof, yeah.

Margot: But it tastes so good.

Mary: Well, no, it tastes amazing, I wasn’t yakking it, but it doesn’t look nice.

Margot: Yeah, Sodalicious was my favorite too. And I kind of had a feeling going in that it would be. I think I’m not trying to slander Swig, but I do think that Swig — like if I were given a choice between these six, Swig would probably be five and six for me.

Elle: Yeah, I would say so too. I just like, they were kind of just whatever.

Margot: If they brought back the chai drink they’d be number one. But I think it’s been like eight years since had it, so.

Mary: I’m gonna be honest — same. I had like a very basic drink order it was the Diet Coke with lime. And like I don’t — I don’t like to … it’s embarrassing. This is embarrassing for me. I’m a big Diet Coke snob, okay? And they just — you can tell, you can tell when the Diet Coke is not as good. And Swig Diet Coke was not doing it for me. Splash’s Diet Coke was better. Shout out, Splash, I love you.

Elle: There is something to be said about a fountain drink versus a canned drink.

Mary: I will say that.

Elle: I, at this point in my life will, if I want soda, will definitely go out and try and get soda not in a can. You know, you know it was the biggest crime for me — I’ve brought up Baja Blast like five times in this episode, but they released a Baja Blast in cans, and you can only get it for in-fountain for like the longest time, and the cans were so bad and I think it’s partially because like the syrup ratio was different.

Mary: There’s an art for making a good fountain drink because like you have to have your carbonation levels all right. You have to have your syrup levels right and you as the, you know, the potion master have total control, and that’s why different Diet — like different fountain drinks taste different different places, you know what I’m saying? There’s a lot of room to mess up. Or do it really well. That’s why McDonald’s is like, awesome.

Margot: Even like at the Union food court — the Dr. Pepper from the Union food court tastes different from the Dr. Pepper at the Panda and they’re like — I see them from each other, so I would rather go to the Union food court than the one at Panda Express, but it’s usually closed when I’m there.

Elle: But yeah I would say overall best drink experience was at Sodalicious.

Margot: Yes, Sodalicious did not have pretzels though. They do have cookies and like rice krispie treats, which I’ve had before and they’re like fine. I’m not a big like sugar cookie or rice krispies treat person so, I’m kind of neutral on them. I haven’t had them from all the locations but, it’s not like I go out for a cookie from Sodalicious. I will go out for a Dr. Pepper from Sodalicious.

Elle: Yeah, that’s all I really have to say about Sodalicious. It was my favorite.

[even more ice rattling]

Elle: Our last shop though definitely had the best pretzels.

Margot: By far.

Cambria: On the list of rankings. I don’t have a rank next to it — all I have next to the pretzels is “SLAY” in all caps.

Elle: Oh, perfect.

Margot: Yeah, that’s true.

Cambria: Truly, it was beyond numbers. We —

Elle: Yeah, we were — we devoured those in four seconds.

Margot: I don’t even know if we finished all the other pretzels that we got, because the other ones were — I think they’re like slimy or like so dense that they were like not enjoyable to eat.

Elle: I did end up eating some of the more like mid pretzels just because I was getting like, you know, like when you have so much caffeine you start feeling like slight cold sweaty.

Mary: Yeah.

Cambria: Weird.

Elle: Margot’s like, I don’t know what you mean.

Cambria: No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Elle: You get it? Yeah. Fellow baristas or caffeine makers relate to this because when I was working at Vosen’s, I would like have that much caffeine every single shift. But like I would just end up like eating, I ended up eating pretzels just to like —

Mary: Just to get a little food in your system.

Elle: Exactly. Yeah, but Thirst — kind of the scariest building low-key. I would say the Thirst buildings are scary.

Mary: Yeah, absolutely. They have kind of a vibe about them. I think it makes the drinks taste better, though. There’s kind of a — it’s kind of a charm. It’s kind of a —

Margot: I’ve been to multiple Thirst locations and they all have that same —

Elle: The same vibe.

Mary: They’ve all got a Pete Davidson rizz to them.

Cambria: Yeah. Yeah, yep. That sums it up really, really wonderfully. That was very good.

Elle: I also wanted to note that Thirst drinks had like the second-worst soda names, but for different reasons than the other ones.

Margot: Mine is called Dr. McCreamy there and every time I say it, I’m like, ew. Dr. McCreamy.

Cambria: Was this the Frat Star one?

Elle: Yes, that was Frat Star. You can also get a children’s-sized energy drink.

Margot: Most of the places the smallest energy drink was a 24-ounce.

Mary: It’s ’cause they want to give you the whole can of Monster.

Elle: Yeah.

Mary: Oh, fun fact: Thirst’s founder went to the University of Utah.

Elle: Oh my god.

Mary: Yeah.

[Sounds of Mary singing while Cambria, Elle and Margot suffer in the background]

Elle: That was the rounding. That was the end of our trip. We almost went to — oh gosh, not a fifth …

Cambria: [whispering] Seventh.

Elle: A seventh.

Mary: Which one?

Elle: It was —

Cambria: Pop.

Mary: Man, you guys. I don’t think we’d be here recording this episode if we hit that seventh.

Margot: That’s true. That’s why we didn’t do it.

Cambria: That might’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Elle: We should — we should kind of give a sense of how we were feeling at the end of that. Like, what six sodas does to an “MF” sort of thing, because another — another little side story for the masses. I used to work as a lifeguard when I was from 15-18 and there was this couple that worked at the pool, married couple, they were like in their 30s and they would bring in a gallon of Mountain Dew to share every day.

Cambria: Let’s reiterate: gallon.

Elle: Gallon.

Cambria: It’s a gallon.

Mary:  Wait, they shared a gallon of Mountain Dew every day?

Elle: Yeah.

Mary: God.

Elle: Sometimes they’d like kind of refill it and —

Margot: What do you mean, kind of?

Elle: I mean like half refill it like — we had a like a Plaid Pantry — regional convenience store mentioned — but they would like sometimes they get more. And I, you know, I thought maybe I could understand by drinking six Mountain Dew drinks like what the hype was because, man, 3 a.m. Baja Blast really hits for sure. But like I — at the end of that trip, I was shaking. I was crying. I wasn’t throwing up but I felt like I could throw up if I had another sip of soda.

Mary: I was certainly seeing things that weren’t there.

Elle: There was some demons being seen, some demons being faced.

Mary: And I’ll tell you what, I’ve got, I’ve got a pretty decent caffeine tolerance. Okay, like it’s never been a thing for me, but I sure saw … I don’t know. I saw — I saw a new side of myself that day I’d like to not revisit. I think it was the empty stomach and early morning for me.

Elle: I think that was part of it.

Cambria: Imagine, if you will, us finishing this trip. Broad daylight. Like it’s not even like — the sun, it was up.

Mary: It wasn’t even noon.

Cambria: It was like imagine being hungover … immediately upon ingesting the drink. And also, the light is up, and you still have to go to work.

Elle: Literally.

Mary: That’s actually true.

Cambria: Imagine your skeleton vibrating, because your body is rejecting it. Your skeleton is gonna hatch and inside — energy drinks.

Elle: I just —

Cambria: Haunting.

Elle: I had never drank soda that early in the morning before. And I was like, okay, maybe, maybe this experience will like, I’ll understand the hype, you know, of like, why people will do this and go super early in the morning. And no, I still don’t get it. Because the minute that soda like hit my stomach, I was like, ‘eugh.’ You know?

Mary: No, no, it was crazy. It was. That was not a good idea.

Elle: I think? Well, like it’s just very interesting to me that like, because it’s big with like the LDS population of Utah to go get sodas that really in the morning? I feel like — I don’t, I just, I just don’t understand, like, why, why not just have a little coffee or a little tea in the morning?

Mary: Can we have a little discourse about this?

Elle: Let’s have a little discourse.

Mary: I’d like to understand myself, okay, because —

Cambria: Laptop is closed.

Mary: I am someone who grew up around this a long time. As previously stated, I’m sorry, you’re sick of hearing that. But I’m kind of going, what’s worse, okay? Forty-four ounces of carbonated foreign liquid that your body — that’s made of chemicals — for a fraction of the caffeine you would be getting from a grande coffee at Starbucks, and it’s all in the name of, oh, well, we don’t believe in caffeine. And I’m kind of going, hmm …

Elle: Should we ask someone this question? Should we like go out and ask?

Margot: Probably. I mean, my understanding is that the like the official writing is kind of unclear. Some people take it to mean a hot drink. Some people take it mean, caffeinated drinks —

Mary: It literally says hot drinks, like in the scripture.

Margot: I think though that some people think because like soda wasn’t invented at the time, it should be expanded to include things like that. But it’s up to individual interpretation, mostly.

Mary: BYU actually just put caffeinated drinks on our campus not that long ago within the last like five or 10 years.

Margot: Like including coffee, or just soda?

Mary: No, just soda. But so I’m kind of going, I don’t know, my best — never mind, that’s a different topic for a different day. We won’t delve into that.

Cambria: That feels like something that we could dive into, but that’s another —

Mary: That’s another Can of Worms!

Elle: I think Utah is just such a perfect place for this phenomenon to occur. Because number one, you’ve got a very large population. A little under half of the state if you trust the church’s numbers because they do include like people who are not actively in the church, they’re just like by records. Little under half of the state does not drink caffeine. Sweet treats — amazing. I don’t know if you’ve ever like been around Mormon people, but they love their little sweet treats. So somewhere, something like a soda shop. You take that anywhere else in the country to like start off with — would not work as well. It’s just a perfect little like, bubble, little petri dish.

Mary: It’s like yeah, a petri dish is a good. It’s a little heat lamp.

Elle: Exactly! That’s what I’m saying.

Mary: It’s a — what do you call that, an incubator?

Elle: Yeah. Look, I don’t know any other, I don’t know any other professional, like NBA basketball NBA team that has a soda shop as their like, sponsor.

Mary: But it is expanding. Like I know we’ve already said that. But like people who have nothing to do with the church or like, there was a couple from New York who was here on business and they came through the drive thru of the place that I work and they were, they were like, “What’s good here? What do I get? I never have soda.” And I was like — they’re like, “Well, what’s your smallest size?” And I told him a 16-ounce and they were like “That big?” like “That’s so much soda!” and it was after I just given a lady her second 44-ounce of Diet Coke for the day and I’m kind of going wow, like this is crazy. But they ended up trying it and they really liked it, it was interesting.

Elle: People just love making little potions I think. I think that’s part of it, because like if you’re not if you’re not like chronically online like me, maybe you haven’t seen it but like the WaterTok stuff. Same concept. Just instead of a soda base, you use water and they do like a million powders and syrups and and potion. Potion-esque behavior.

Mary: Yeah. It is potion-esque behavior.

Elle: Wizard-esque behavior.

Mary: [wizard voice] And now we put a Diet Coke with the coconuts and the lime.

Elle: [WaterTok voice] I’m gonna use three packets of Nerds powder. And 40 pumps of the syrup.

Cambria: Yeah.

Mary: [still wizard voice] And the Monster energy drink in the radioactive pomegranate.

Elle: Literally. And —

Mary: That was delightful. I can’t stop thinking about that. If you ever can order a Monster energy drink has to be Monster Ultra because that’s I think what made it so neon because it’s the white Monster. Get the white Monster, put some pomegranate in there. And a little lime. Oh my gosh. I know we’re gonna talk about it.

Cambria: And wait for your insides to light up.

Mary: But it tasted so good!

Cambria: I could see my veins from the inside it was like putting a flashlight in the inside of your cheek.

Mary: And Cambria let me have so many sips of that drink because it was so good.

Cambria: It was actually, it was fire.

Mary: It was real. And that was the — that was my favorite drink of the day and it wasn’t even mine.

Cambria: Yeah.

Mary: It was so good.

Elle: Class, what did we learn from — did we did we learn anything? Did we answer our question as to why?

Cambria: I think we did. We talked about like the culture on it like as to what — we know why it’s here. It’s the culture. It’s the caffeine deficiency. It’s the idea of having a sweet little something around everywhere you want to go.

Mary: I’ll say this, though. A little hindsight and a little time and even years of ordering from the same seven shops I’ve ordered from for a long time. They’re all pretty much the same. But if you put them all right next to each other. It’s pretty fun.

Elle: For real. We love having fun on this podcast.

Mary: We sure do.

Cambria: We love having fun. We love exploring the world so you don’t have to, listeners. We’ll drink as much soda as you want, because anything for content!

Mary: Get your pretzels from Thirst though.

Elle: Yeah, for real.

Cambria: Thirst’s pretzels all the way.

Mary: And they have different dipping sauces and different flavors of pretzels. They have their salt pretzels, they have butter pretzels, they have cinnamon sugar pretzels —

Elle: Now I really want some Thirst pretzels.

Mary: They have parmesan pretzels.

Cambria: Should we go get some Thirst pretzels right now?

Mary: I think we should!

Cambria: Alright, is there anything else anyone wants to add?

Mary: This isn’t sponsored.

Cambria: Not yet.

Elle: I love the Daily Utah Chronicle and all of their amazing projects that they put out. It’s not just audio. Crazy shocker. It’s also articles.

Margot: I would like to thank Cambria for allowing me to live my dream of comparing six different sodas all in one day, and not having to — well and getting reimbursed for it. It was awesome.

Mary: I also would like to — oh, I interrupted you.

Margot: Oh, it’s okay, I was just gonna say I’m smiling the whole time.

Mary: You were smiling — Margot was literally ear to ear the whole time. She was in the driver’s seat, ‘we will have another Diet Coke.’ It was so awesome.

Margot: It was my dream.

Elle: And we made it happen.

Mary: I love the things you get excited by, it makes me so happy.

Margot: Like my George Michael-themed birthday party.

Mary: Margot’s a simple woman. She loves George. She loves George Michael. She loves podcasting.

Elle: She loves Wikipedia.

Mary: She loves Wikipedia. She loves copy editing.

Margot: I’m nothing if not predictable.

Elle: She loves a little Dr. Pepper.

Mary: The best most endearing person you’ll ever meet.

Cambria: We love our Editor-in-Chief.

Mary: We do.

Cambria: Thank you guys for tuning in!

Mary: Thank you!

Elle: Thank you!

Mary: Wait, wait, wait. [starts singing with intent to harmonize] Thank you …

Elle: [singing] Thank you …

Cambria: [singing] Thank you …

Margot: [singing] Thank you …

Everyone: Thaaaank youuu!

Cambria: All right, tune in next time for another …

Everyone: Can of Worms!

[outro music]

Mary: [singing yet again] row row row your boat, gently down the soda stream, fizzily, fizzily, fizzily, fizzily, life is but a … really caffeinated dream.

Cambria: Okay, I’m keeping that in because that sounded awesome.

Mary: If you thought that was corny, I don’t want to hear it.

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About the Contributors
Cambria Thorley
Cambria Thorley, Podcast Host
Cambria is currently a sophomore at the U and is majoring in English. She loves to write and will talk about the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies for longer than anyone wants. If you’re trying to find her, try looking for her at the car wash — she doesn’t work there, she just really likes car washes.
Elle Cowley
Elle Cowley, Multimedia Managing Editor
Elle Cowley (they/them) is a Junior at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in Strategic Communications. Currently, they work for The Daily Utah Chronicle as Multimedia Managing Editor, at Slug Magazine as an Editorial Intern and at KUER as an Intern for RadioWest. Their favorite part of their work is talking to lots of different people and telling their stories. Some of the work they're the most proud of is their work on the narrative podcast, Can of Worms and their Op-Ed series on anti-trans legislation in Utah. When Elle isn't out in the field, they enjoy knitting, visiting record stores and reading pulpy sci-fi.
Margot Reynolds
Margot Reynolds, Editor-in-Chief
Margot is studying biology and medical anthropology at the U. She joined the Chronicle as a copy editor and enjoyed being the copy director before becoming the Editor-in-Chief. While she respects AP style, she finds its rejection of the Oxford comma disheartening. She is passionate about cats, cooking and collecting Korok seeds.
Mary Allen
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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