We’ve all heard of sugar dating — sugar babies and sugar daddies and the like — but what’s a salt daddy?

I recently pitched, had accepted, and completed a story for a Major News Media Outlet re sugar dating. The main premise was the question: Do college co-eds working as sugar babies really end up paying down their tuition debt like many sugar dating networks suggest?

Data released by a high-profile sugar dating site quantified the number of students utilizing their platform, presumably as an alternative method of financial aid. In 2015, 225 people registered to be sugar babies on the site with an NYU-affiliated .edu email address. This was the highest number of sign ups associated with a specific university, followed by Arizona State University (ASU, 189 babies), and the University of Texas at Austin (UT, 163 babies).

As I worked my way through the story, interviewing current and former sugar babies affiliated with both NYU and UT Austin, I discovered two interesting things that I hadn’t seen covered before — one of which was related to salt daddies. What in the world is a salt daddy? 

For various reasons, the story sat on my editor’s desk, devolving into dust. But rather than lose the work, here’s part one of two re sugar babies and some interesting corners I discovered in the sugar dating world.

Read Part 2 on sugar baby motivation here.

What’s a salt daddy?

Rather than help destigmatize or at least help people get more informed about sugar dating, the proliferation of media attention and op-eds have actually had a negative impact on the sugar world.

Sugar baby Kara* is the moderator of a subreddit restricted to babies only with over 1100 readers. According to her, sugar dating has become much more mainstream in recent years due to all the “massive publicity” it receives. This has resulted in an influx of babies and a shift in the sugar bowl’s power balance.

“The more mainstream sugar dating gets, the more competition there is,” Kara told [me]. “For a lot of girls, this is a business, and every time more girls enter the lifestyle, their business is at stake.”

This shift has contributed to a proliferation of “salt daddies” – men seeking an arrangement, but with nothing to offer a prospective baby.

Salt daddies “disrespect women and call us dirty whores when we refuse to sleep with them for $100,” Kara explains. “Every Joe Schmoe now thinks he’s entitled to the company of a beautiful young woman without compensating her accordingly. They’ll say, ‘Well my last girl would sleep with me for less, and she was way prettier than you.’”

Stacey, 19, a second year UT undergraduate who’s been a sugar baby for three months, seconded Kara’s assessment, listing several behavior patterns that are red flags – key indicators of a salt daddy.

“There are some guys on [the sugar dating site I use] that pretend to be sugar daddies, but they’re not,” she explains. “Telling me what you have – there’s no reason to do that – pictures with their faces [not visible], pictures of money and credit cards, being really pushy and wanting to meet too fast. I know a lot of these guys are supposed to be verified, but I wonder how they do that…”

According to a representative from [the sugar dating site], when asked about verification, “everyone has an optional third party background check if someone wants to verify their identity. This checks against prior offenses as well. Finances are self-reported. We approve all profiles and pictures manually before they are posted to assure legitimacy.”

Like everything on the Internet, in spite of what may be best efforts or good intentions, people slip through the cracks.

Stacey seems to be doing well though. She currently has two sugar daddies, both married and in their 40s, neither of whom she’s intimate with. “I usually meet [one of my sugar daddies], usually after class, a couple times a week,” she explained. “We usually just talk for like an hour… or, he talks. He tells me about his day, and then he pays me.”

Well, what do you think about the phenomenon of salt daddies within the sugar dating world? How might this impact babies’ experiences in the sugar bowl?

Read Part 2 on sugar baby motivation here.

Endnote/FYI — I reached out to NYU and UT for comments on this story when I was originally working on it. Queries to NYU went unanswered. A representative from UT’s Student Affairs division communicated UT’s position, which was essentially that they had no comment. Though they were aware students may be doing it, they didn’t want to talk about it.

This “non-response” was telling. It conveyed both judgment, as well as disregard for students within each respective university community. Because regardless of how one feels about sugar dating, the fact remains that college students are doing it. And if members of your community are doing it, it’s worth taking seriously #justsayin


(pictured: Salt is good, just not in this context)

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2 thoughts on “What’s a salt daddy? (Part 1 of 2)

  • Pingback: Sugar Baby Motivation (Part 2 of 2) - Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals

  • July 14, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Well, I don’t think it would be completely unreasonable to read the colleges’ reactions as “well, if we talk to you about this, we’re essentially admitting to condoning something that is — in a number of different ways — potentially illegal”, not to mention that it’s really commenting on the private lives of the students, which they also don’t do.

    You *can* interpret it as being a dis on what is, to some degree, sex work, but I don’t think you *have to* interpret it that way.

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