A mindless scroll on TikTok might lead you toward a new side of the social media app: the famed “WaterTok,” stimulating over 170 million views across the app. But it’s not just plain, old water; it’s a 40-ounce Stanley cup full of ice, powder flavor packets and copious pumps of syrup to create the ultimate water-drinking experience.
Consistently made by American TikTok users, the trend started to inspire others to increase their water intake, especially those trying to lose weight. Users share how to increase hydration, capturing their water recipes daily. Recipes contain powders and syrups that have little to no calories or sugar and are instead packed with artificial sweeteners.
While it isn’t a new phenomenon, the presence of social media has allowed “WaterTok” to become the next “TikTok made me buy it,” with tons of users now buying the Stanley cups and all of the flavorings to make their own unique recipes.
But many have to contest if it is actually water. The other side of “WaterTok” argues that these flavored combinations are basically juice or Kool-Aid. Some also stipulate that this trend adds to toxic diet culture, as it encourages the heavy consumption of artificial sweeteners and aspartame.
“WOTD,” otherwise known as the "Water of the Day,“ is one of the most popular sharing methods of “WaterTok.” The “Hydration Station” or the “Water Bar” is the equivalent to an at-home coffee station, except there is an abundant stock of syrup bottles on a spinning organizer and flavor packets separated in their own packed caddy.
The most popular flavors of powders range from pop-adjacent flavors like orange Crush or Hawaiian Punch to packets mimicking liquified candy like Starbursts, Nerds, Jolly Ranchers, Skittles, etc. The syrups range in size from smaller handheld bottles to larger pump syrups in bulk. The possibilities are endless with syrups like salted caramel, dragon acai fruit, cotton candy, and coconut.
A powder packet of the green apple Jolly Rancher with two pumps of salted caramel syrup creates a drink resembling a caramel apple. One user shared her birthday cake water recipe, which consists of four pumps of cotton candy-flavored syrup and three pumps of vanilla-almond flavored syrup. This particular video has accumulated over two million views, though the comment section is filled with remarks like “Why don’t people just drink water,” and “At what point are y’all just making juice?”
Several users have already begun posting videos to mock the flavored water users, giving their satirical renditions of the water recipes.
One clip even brings in a sound clip from the iconic mockumentary show “Parks and Recreation” as a tie-in to the bizarreness of “WaterTok.”
The drama between the two sides has grown as the trend becomes increasingly popular. The flavored water makers make jokes right back, poking fun at what the other side wants them to say or think about their drinks.
A Harvard nutritional physicist, Dr. Uma Naidoo, has spoken out about this particular trend, stating that the marketed zero-calorie or zero-sugar products of syrups and powders are not the same as if you were to drink a normal cup of water. All artificial sweeteners are potentially harmful to the body, but can be used in moderation. For some users, they have apparently contributed to their weight loss.
“Two pumps of the coconut syrup, mama’s trying to have a pina colada,” says Tonya Spanglo, also known as “takingmylifebackat42” on TikTok. Her videos get some of the heaviest traction on this side of the app, especially as she shares how she has lost over 200 pounds with the help of her water recipes. She even has a partnership with Skinny Mixes, a company that creates several sugar-free syrups that she promotes in her videos.
She particularly has spoken out about her strong feelings against all the hate she has receive on her daily videos. Spanglo and many other “WaterTok” lovers seem determined to stay on the flavored water train, despite the fact that it may or may not actually be water.
Who knows how long this side of TikTok will remain relevant, especially because of the heavy load of backlash and drama between both sides. But the fad is definitely entertaining and creative nonetheless, even though it’s entirely easy to drown in this new TikTok sensation.