Brigham Young University ends ban on caffeinated soda sales

Mountain Dew - this and many other caffeinated sodas are a staple of late night study session for many college and university students. Brigham Young University announced Sept. 21, 2017 that it would begin to sell caffeinated soft drinks on campus, ending a 60-year ban. Photo taken in St. George, Aug. 27, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University ended a six-decade ban Thursday on the sale of caffeinated soft drinks on campus, surprising students by posting a picture of a can of Coca-Cola on Twitter and just two words: “It’s happening.”

The move sparked social media celebrations from current and former students, with many recalling how they had hauled their own 2-liter bottles of caffeinated sodas in their backpacks to keep awake for long study sessions.

The university never banned having caffeinated drinks on campus, and many people remembered how faculty mini-fridges were the only place where the drinks could be found.

“I drank a lot of caffeinated beverages while I was here but none of them was purchased on campus,” said Christopher Jones, 34, a visiting BYU history professor and former student. “I never thought I would see the day so it’s exciting.”

Jones said he didn’t know whether to believe it when he saw the announcement on his phone so he walked to a student center and saw the first bottles being stocked in vending machines and refrigerators. He was one of the first people to buy one.

“Did I just buy the first-ever caffeinated Coke Zero Sugar sold in #BYU’s Wilkinson Student Center?” he tweeted. ‘Yes, yes I did.”

Sales of highly caffeinated energy drinks are still banned.

The university decided in the mid-1950s that no caffeinated beverages would be sold on campus and didn’t budge on its policy — even when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 2012 clarified that church health practices do not prevent members from drinking caffeinated soft drinks.

The university said then that it was sticking to the policy because there was little demand for the drinks on campus. But the school of 33,000 students in Provo, Utah, said Thursday that increasing demand had prompted the change.

Caffeinated soft drinks will also be sold at sporting events that draw tens of thousands of fans.

The Utah-based Mormon religion directs its nearly 16 million worldwide members to avoid alcohol and hot beverages such as coffee and tea as part of an 1833 revelation from Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

Amber Whiteley said she used to get nasty looks when she brought Mountain Dew to campus when she was a BYU student nearly a decade ago.

You youths will never understand the struggle we went through,” Whiteley wrote jokingly in a Facebook post.

In a phone interview, Whiteley said the change could impact views among Mormons about caffeine. She said some older Mormons in her Salt Lake City congregation still believe all caffeine is prohibited.

“Maybe this will be one more way to get the word out that it’s OK to have caffeine,” said Whiteley, a mother who is pursuing her doctorate in counselling psychology.

Story by Associated Press reporter Brady Combs. AP writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this story.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • 42214 September 21, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    The church must have bought stock in Coca-Cola so they have a financial motive in their earth shattering decision to allow adults to buy these beverages.

  • DB September 21, 2017 at 3:44 pm


  • Foxyheart September 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I was astounded one day when a Mormon neighbour that I worked with drank a coke. I asked him about the caffeine and he said only hot beverages with caffeine was banned. I told him that was stupid as caffeine is caffeine whether it is a cold or hot drink. He didn’t have an answer to that…….

  • DRT September 21, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    And the Revelation said, “YO, dummies, this is a source of revenue, albeit a small one, that you are losing!” 😉

  • great success September 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    For my health I’ll take my coffee or tea black instead of loading up on high fructose corn syrup and empty calories, thank you very much. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and artery complications, etc, etc…the over consumption of processed sugar is killing us – but overlooked in ‘divine’ revelation. Befuddling.

    • comments September 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      The most important LDS divine revelation of all = $$$

      Let’s get some starbucks built on campus asap. It’s gonna happen. Believe me. LOL

  • mesaman September 21, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve heard that Mtn Dew causes warts on your tongue. Let’s ban everything but water, filtered water to be sure.

  • Redbud September 22, 2017 at 1:50 am

    So I have an honest question. The LDS church never officially banned caffeinated soda, so why did BYU ban it in the first place? If BYU considers it acceptable to sell it now, what caused them to believe it was unacceptable to sell it before?

    Also, why is it OK for the LDS to drink hot chocolate, but not coffee? Caffeine can obviously be ruled out. They are BOTH hot drinks that are served at around the same temperature. Is it because the LDS believe that coffee has something bad in it? It strikes me as odd because I am not aware of any studies that claim coffee is bad for you, millions of people drink it, and you would think at this point in time, if there were something bad in it, we would know about it by now? I already know coffee is specifically mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, so that I also get. One LDS member told me the reason was strictly based on obedience. Now, I can understand obedience to something that can be harmful to you. For example, alcohol and cigarettes make sense to me, and I can see why LDS prohibit it. But coffee? I still don’t understand that. Can anyone offer an explanation, beyond simply “the prophet said it, therefore we must follow”???

    Also, with all the kids drinking energy drinks which are loaded with sugar, caffeine, and megadoses of vitamins and other substances, you would think a prophet would have received some type of revelation specifically banning them, especially since coffee is specifically banned which is mild compared to pounding down energy drinks all day long. And yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the “moderation in all things”, of coarse, but even with that said, you would think there would be more specific mention of things we consume in this modern generation that the church would ban that are harmful. Can anyone shed light on this? By the way not trying to bash the church, just seeking answers that actually make sense and can help me understand this issue.

  • Real Life September 22, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Mormons are so out of control these days. LOL!

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