Soda Shop Chains Are Taking Hold of the West

While the pandemic halted or shuttered many restaurants and bars, soda shops were able to stay open and thrive during the first few months of the pandemic, largely because of their drive-through lanes.

“It became a nice little escape from being stuck at home all the time,” Ms. Durfey said.

As a nod to her hometown, Atlanta, Olivia Diaz, who is 27 and lives in Orem, Utah, likes to order Life’s a Peach — Dr Pepper with peach and vanilla syrup flavorings, and half-and-half to make it “extra dirty.” (The term “dirty” refers to the flavor add-ins, and its use in marketing was the basis of a 2015 trademark lawsuit, when Swig sued Sodalicious.)

Ms. Diaz started going to the soda shop once or twice a week after her sister began working at one. Now, she goes only a couple of times a month. “I just realized that probably drinking that much soda probably wasn’t the best for me,” she said.

Many of the dirty sodas, which come in sizes up to 44 ounces, can contain up to 1,000 calories.

Rebecca Fronberg, a program manager at the Utah Department of Health, said that “it’s not really great to drink our calories” and that sugar in the diet “is always a concern for diabetes, heart disease and all kinds of things.”

Despite that, many seek out soda as a pick-me-up, a small indulgence.

In Clinton, Utah, Nichole Richins, 42, lives within 10 minutes of 10 different soda shops. Her usual order is a Polar Punch from Swig, a blended energy drink with blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, ginger ale and vanilla cream. She visits the shop about once a week, “but if it’s a hard week, it will be more.”

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