Skip to content

A Zero-Calorie "Dessert" Is Going Viral—Here's Why

The new trend has TikTok users stepping up their sips.

When you hear someone say "strawberry shortcake," "banana split," or "salted caramel apple," you're likely to envision the classic desserts in their intended solid form. But on TikTok, sweet treats like these are being reimagined as the inspiration behind the latest hydration hack.

Across the social media platform, countless users have been sharing videos of themselves concocting various "water recipes" to increase their H2O consumption. By using different flavored syrups and powdered drink mixes that you can find at the supermarket—usually, the sugar-free and zero-calorie varieties—TikTokers are brewing up creations like "birthday cake water," "pineapple upside down cake water," and "cotton candy water." The hashtag #watertok now has 140.3 million views.

RELATED: Two New Viral Ice Cream Trends Are Taking America By Storm

TikTok creator Tonya Spanglo, who goes by the username @takingmylifebackat42, has become known for leading the #watertok trend, sharing a range of water-based brews, including "piña colada water." The recipe consists of ice water, three pumps of coconut-flavored syrup, and a packet of crushed pineapple-flavored drink powder. The video has racked up 3.6 million views and almost 3,100 comments since being posted on March 8.

Spanglo began her journey with flavored water after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery three years ago. According to Fast Company, the content creator said that she struggled to meet her daily water goal after the surgery, but found success after adding flavoring to it. Spanglo also told the New York Post that turning to flavored water helped her kick her soda habit, sharing that at one point, she "would drink like five [Coca-Colas] a day." The waters have since replaced the Coke.

While many social media users are raving about how the the trend has helped them boost their water intake, stop drinking soda, or lose weight, others have expressed disapproval and skepticism. In addition to equating the flavored waters to soda, juice, and Kool-Aid, individuals have shared concerns about how the trend could contribute to eating disorders.

Jillian Lampert, chief strategy officer for the Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, told Rolling Stone, "it can very easily be a way for people to feel like they are ingesting food and adequate nourishment when they are not."

Nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, compared the beverage trend to the popular use of Crystal Light back in the '80s and '90s, telling, "I feel like #WaterTok might be the 2023 answer to Crystal Light with people trying to have a pleasurable flavor experience without any calories or carbs (or very few)."

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
Filed Under