- Pilk is a combination of Pepsi and milk that the beverage company has turned into a holiday campaign.
- Experts share that the drink has been around for quite some time.
- Registered dietitians claim that even with milk, the viral drink offers no nutritional value and recommend that most people consume it in moderation.
Move over eggnog, cider and hot chocolate. See you later, proffee. There’s a new viral drink trend sweeping the internet this holiday season: Pilk.
What is Pilk?
Like the proffee (protein + coffee) before it, the drink combines two ingredients: Pepsi and milk.
Milk and cookies are age-old combinations to leave out for Santa. But Pepsi’s twist on tradition includes a contest. Fans who consume the treat, post a photo on specific social media channels by December 25, and use the hashtag #PilkandCookies and #Sweepstakes land on the nice list and earn a chance to win cash prizes. (Following the mark is another rule.)
“Combining Pepsi and milk has long been a secret hack among Pepsi fans,” Pepsi chief marketing officer Todd Kaplan said in a press release announcing the campaign.
But experts say Pepsi and those fans are not reinventing and have never reinvented the wheel.
“The combination isn’t new — it’s been around for years at this point,” says Cara Harbstreet, MS RD LD of Street Smart Nutrition.
Nevertheless, influencers are bubbling with enthusiasm about it.
Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RD, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian, says the concept of combining milk and soda, or “dirty soda,” has been popular among Mormon communities for several years.
“This population usually abstains from alcohol and hot drinks,” says Pasquariello.
Utah has a large community of people who practice the Mormon faith, and Utah-based beverages and the Swig candy chain have taken advantage of this. The brand became the self-proclaimed “home of the original dirty soda.”
Flavored versions include ingredients like coke zero, peach puree, and coconut cream.
Gen-Z superstar artist Olivia Rodrigo took a photo of herself with a Swig mug last year and posted it to Instagram, where she now has nearly 29 million followers. It ended up being good for dirty soda.
A year later, the hashtag #dirtysoda now has more than 115 million views on TikTok, and Pepsi tapped Lindsay Lohan to help promote its spin on the trend.
Call it what you want – dirty soda or pilk – the drink is all the rage, but is it good for you?
It’s a relative term, of course.
Experts have given their quick and dirty views on its nutritional value, although they have warned that hard numbers are hard to come by.
“Nutrient content is difficult to measure accurately, as it will depend on a few key factors,” says Harbstreet. “First of all, the type of milk is important. Although all dairy milks have a similar protein content, they differ in their fat content and, therefore, their calorie content. Second, ratio matters.
Say, for example, you’re using a 12 oz. can of Pepsi and a cup (8 oz) of whole milk. Blanca Garcia, RDN, dietician and nutrition specialist at Midss, claims that this drink is said to have 296 calories and 53 grams of sugar.
Breaking it down, Pepsi has 150 calories and 41 grams of sugar, all added sugars. Milk contains 146 calories and 12 grams of sugar, none of which is added.
“The amount of calories equals a snack without providing a significant source of nutrients from the soda itself,” says Garcia.
But what about milk? A cup of whole cow’s milk also contains 8 grams of protein and 28% of your daily calcium needs, essential for healthy muscles and bones.
Does this make the drink a nutritious addition to your diet?
“Although cow’s milk is a nutrient-dense option, providing 13 essential vitamins and minerals as well as protein, it is compensated for at least to some extent by diluting it with the addition of Pepsi,” says Harbstreet.
Harbstreet says the most significant impact comes from sugar.
Thus, a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should limit their added sugar intake to 200 calories from added sugar, or about
Pilk places your added sugar intake at 41 grams.
Garcia admits Pepsi’s campaign is eye-catching, especially during the holidays. Also, prices are involved.
“The common recommendation is to indulge in moderation, get the chance to try everything in small amounts,” Garcia says.
The problem is that if you’re on the campaign and consuming Pilk and cookies, the sugary treats only add to the sugar content. It’s your choice to try, but she does not recommend considering Pilk as a nutritious source of vitamins and nutrients.
Pasquariello believes the drink will eventually become a trend – and sooner rather than later.
“I don’t think enough people who aren’t already consuming drinks like this would find Pilk appealing or consume it regularly for it to become a permanent staple in anyone’s diet,” Pasquariello says.
Pasquariello is honest: if his prediction is true, it’s probably a good thing.
“While there’s nothing inherently bad or ‘wrong’ about consuming soda or dairy, there’s no valid reason to consume either,” she says. “With regard to sodas in particular, the scientific community agrees that the higher the consumption of sodas – and even diet sodas – the higher the risk of developing various chronic diseases as well as obesity. “
Several studies over the years have sounded the alarm about the consumption of sugary drinks.
Our knowledge of these facts makes the dirty soda trend interesting for Harbstreet.
“I think it might speak to a bit of a rebellious nature in all of us — like in, I feel like I’m doing something that I’m not supposed to do,” Harbstreet says.
Harbstreet can’t recommend it to everyone and says it depends on dietary needs. People with diabetes and lactose intolerance should be especially careful.
“Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t eat or drink carbs — you’ll just need to monitor changes in blood sugar and adjust insulin or medications accordingly,” says Harbstreet. “For people who are lactose intolerant, some milk options like Lactaid or A2 milk, [which is] Milk made from cows that only produce protein A2 can ease the uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms they are likely to experience.
Whether you’re channeling your inner rebel, wanting to win a cash prize, or looking for a soft drink, Harbstreet shares that it’s important to take a step back and assess whether it’s a good idea.
Additionally, people should speak with suppliers if they are concerned about how the food or drink will affect their health.
“TikTok is built on virality and watch time,” says Harbstreet. “The platform is designed to show you things you didn’t know you wanted to see but can’t take your eyes off of.”
Safety and the potential to trigger disordered eating habits are two of Harbstreet’s main concerns with TikTok trends.
Harbstreet recommends asking yourself these questions before trying a TikTok trend:
- Is it safe?
“No TikTok trend is worth serious foodborne illness or physical harm in the kitchen,” she says.
- Is it worth it?
Will I need to buy special ingredients or use my resources for this?
- Is it something I feel compelled to try?
“Just because our peers or someone influential does it doesn’t mean it will be personally rewarding to do the same,” Harbstreet says. “There’s nothing wrong with feeling curious or open to trying new foods, but we shouldn’t do it just for the yuckiness factor or to jump on a trend in hopes of going viral. .”
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