Water Recipes: The Rise and Controversy of the WaterTok Trend

Water Recipes: The Rise and Controversy of the WaterTok Trend

Water recipes popularized on TikTok are blurring the lines between water and juice, with many waters drawing inspiration from flavors like blue raspberry, strawberry and green apple.

The digital age has brought us an array of novel concepts, trends and terminologies, adding a fresh zest to our everyday lexicon. One such recent phenomenon making waves on social media is water recipes. This term might initially baffle those unacquainted with the trend, but it’s relatively simple and straightforward. 

Water recipes refer to a variety of methods to enhance plain water by adding flavorings, typically sugar-free syrups, powdered flavorings or a combination of the two. From “Orange Mermaid Water” to “Birthday Cake Water,” these recipes are as diverse as the names suggest. 

The popular trend of sharing these water recipes on social media platforms, particularly TikTok, has been dubbed as #WaterTok. Read on to learn about the emergence of this trend, the products used in the water recipes and the controversy surrounding the healthiness of WaterTok, as well as how businesses are capitalizing on its popularity.

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The Emergence of WaterTok

The WaterTok trend began as a fun, quirky way for individuals to increase their water intake. This trend, which has taken TikTok by storm, involves users creating and sharing water recipes that modify plain water with various flavorings like sugar-free syrups and flavor packets. The water recipes often come with unique names, such as “Unicorn Cotton Candy Water” or “Peach Ring Water.”

The trend traces its origin to Tonya Spanglo, known by her handle @takingmylifebackat42 on TikTok, who started making flavored water years ago to meet her daily water goals after undergoing bariatric surgery. As she shared her “waters of the day” on the platform, other TikToker users took inspiration and started creating their own water recipes, contributing to the trend’s viral phenomenon. With the hashtag #WaterTok garnering over 375 million views, the popularity of these water recipes is undeniable.

The Products and Controversy

Water recipes featured in #WaterTok typically use powdered flavorings from popular brands like Skittles, Sonic, Crush and Jolly Ranchers, and syrups by Jordan’s Skinny Mixes, DaVinci and MiO. Splenda, whose products are sweetened with Sucralose, also recently entered the drink mix category with the launch of its Peel & Pour Zero Calorie Drink Mix pods which come in flavors like Pink Lemonade and Sweet Tea.

“We are thrilled to see our syrups being used in a whole new way with the emergence of #WaterTok and are so inspired by our fans’ creativity,” said Skinny Mixes founder Jordan Engelhardt, in a press release. “Our brand has always been at the forefront of innovation and trends, and #WaterTok is no exception.”

However, the excitement surrounding these water recipes has also given rise to controversy. The line between water and juice seems to be blurring, causing many to question whether these enhanced beverages should still be classified as water. The fact that some of these water recipes are also branded as weight loss videos, despite the trend not being overtly related to weight loss, has raised further concerns. The trend also comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced its guidance against using artificial sweeteners for weight loss purposes. 

In addition, there is a debate around the excessive use of sweeteners in water recipes. Some nutritionists  and dieticians caution against using artificially colored and flavored syrups, warning that making water overly sweet could establish a mindset where all beverages need to be excessively sweet and flavored to be enjoyable.

The Business Perspective and Exploitation of WaterTok

This trend has also sparked interest among businesses, with some companies using the popularity of water recipes to their advantage. The WaterTok trend has been partially responsible for nearly selling out popular Stanley tumblers that many creators use to drink their concoctions.

Companies that produce the flavorings used in these water recipes have also seen an uptick in demand. Brands such as Torani, whose syrups are often used in coffee and cocktails, have been thrust into the spotlight, benefiting from the WaterTok trend. As these water recipes continue to catch on, it’s likely that we’ll see more companies attempting to leverage this trend.

Despite the controversy, some healthcare professionals see the positive side of the WaterTok trend. They praise it for promoting increased water consumption and helping individuals meet their daily water goals. Dr. Amy Lee, a physician-nutritionist specialist, told The Healthy that she sees little harm in the trend as long as the flavorings aren’t sugar-laden. She believes that flavored water can help promote drinking more water as it makes the otherwise “boring” water more interesting.

The WaterTok trend and the popularity of water recipes have undoubtedly taken social media by storm. The trend has provided companies with a unique opportunity to market their products and engage with a new audience; however, the controversy surrounding the trend should not be ignored. While it’s essential to encourage healthy hydration habits, it’s equally important to promote a balanced approach to nutrition and wellness. As with any trend, moderation is key, and it’s crucial to maintain healthy habits​.