Reese Witherspoon sparks heated debate after recipe video for snow-based dessert goes viral on TikTok

Screengrabs of Reese Witherspoon and her 'chococinno' from her TikTok
The recipe hasn't exactly gone down a treat with her fans. Photo credit: @reesewitherspoon / TikTok

Reese Witherspoon has sparked serious debate online after her seemingly innocuous recipe for a 'chococcino' - an iced coffee made of snow - prompted disgust among viewers.

The mum-of-three, 47, shared her recipe for the icy treat with her TikTok followers on Friday, which essentially is a cup of fresh snow with cold brew coffee and lashings of salted caramel sauce and chocolate syrup. After creating the concoction, the star branded it a "snow salt chococinno" [sic] - a play on the coffee drink cappuccino.

However, Witherspoon's method of gathering the snow - by using mugs to scrape it off her outdoor grill - attracted criticism, with many pointing out the potential health hazards of consuming the crystallised ice. At the time of writing, the video has amassed over 4.4 million views and almost 4000 comments.

Narrating a clip of her son shovelling the snow into two mugs, The Morning Show star said: "We got a tonne of snow over the past few days - we decided to make a recipe.

"So, first we scooped the snow into cups, and we added salted caramel syrup and some chocolate syrup, because we like how they taste together... And then we decided to add some cold brew, just for a yummy coffee flavour," she continued, alongside step-by-step clips that showed how to assemble the concoction.  

"This is so good," Witherspoon told the camera as she dug in. "[It's like a] snowy cappuccino." 

But fans weren't convinced, with several pointing out that unless the snow is freshly fallen, it can contain potentially hazardous pollutants and contaminants.

"Isn't snow dirty?" one viewer asked in the comments, while a second added: "I thought eating snow was like dangerous to our health."

"No, no, no... snow is not made to eat," said another, with a fourth declaring: "Am I the only one concerned?"

"The way she's just eating pollution slush puppies lmao," one tweeted.

Others defended Witherspoon's creation, with a number of fans claiming they also ate snow as a child and now let their own children indulge in the occasional snow-based treat, such as 'snow cream'.

"Fallen snow can be very dirty... but who cares. You only live once. I remember eating snow as a kid," one said, with another adding: "So nobody grew up eating snow cream? Man, y'all missing out."

In a follow-up video, Witherspoon appeared confused by the controversy, showcasing a glass of melted snow to illustrate.

"It's clear? Is this bad?" she asked. "Am I not supposed to eat snow?"

She later added: "I didn't grow up drinking filtered water; we drank out of the taps, we actually put our mouths on the tap. Sometimes in the summer, when it was hot, we drank out of the hose - like, we put our mouths on the hose growing up... maybe that's why I'm like this.  

"So, what you're saying to me is I have to filter the snow? I just can't," she laughed. "I can't filter snow, I don't know how to do that."  

So, is snow safe to eat?  

Speaking to NPR, Jeff S. Gaffney, a professor of chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, noted that as it falls through the sky, snow in urban areas can form a 'net' for catching pollutants, the most common being black carbon, or soot, released by coal-fired plants and wood-burning stoves.

Sarah Doherty, an atmospheric scientist, also told the outlet that dirt and soil can combine with the snow as it falls.

Screenshot of Reese Witherspoon looking confused
Reese was more than a little shocked by the controversy her iced 'chococinno' caused. Photo credit: @reesewitherspoon / TikTok

However, the consensus appears to be that snow is usually safe to eat, so long as it is freshly fallen, isn't discoloured and hasn't been ploughed. Ideally, it should also be gathered a few hours into the snowfall, as that "will tend to be the cleanest snow," Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News' health and nutrition editor, told TODAY.

At least Witherspoon appears to not be taking the controversy to heart. In a clip responding to a fan's concern, she said with a giggle: "You only live once, and it snows maybe once a year here.

"Also, I want to say something... it was delicious. It was so good."