The great American divide

No, it’s not religion. Or politics. What, then?

It’s how you refer to your carbonated beverage.

Ever wanted some real data on how it breaks down? Curious about the percentage of people in your county who say “pop,” “soda,” or “coke”? Wonder no more: you can find it all right here.

For instance, in Johnson County, IA, from 98 responses, 74 said “pop,” 1 said “coke,” 20 said “soda” and 3 reported “other.”

I didn’t see anything reported regarding their methodology, but just looking at the distribution, it looks about right: the “soda” folks on the coasts, “cokes” in the south, “pop” in the midwest (with the smattering of “sodas” in Missouri and Illinois, and “cokes” in Indiana; I don’t know what’s up with those Wisconsin “soda” folks, though). One county in Iowa–Iowa county, as it turns out–also seems largely made up of “soda” folks, but that appears to be due to small sample size: only 5 total for the county, and 3 reported “soda.”

So anyway, if you’re preparing for your next trip and want to impress the locals, be sure to look up the most common usage at your destination–you’ll fit right in. Well, except that funny accent…

Comments

  1. #1 Dave S.
    June 27, 2006

    OK…I’ll bear that in mind.

    Also, I’ll need to know…are the three main meals of the day breakfast/lunch/dinner, breakfast/dinner/supper or breakfast/lunch/supper?

  2. #2 Craig Pennington
    June 27, 2006

    Also, I’ll need to know…are the three main meals of the day breakfast/lunch/dinner, breakfast/dinner/supper or breakfast/lunch/supper?

    The third is not really ever correct. Dinner is the main meal of the day, whether it occurs midday or evening. Lunch is a light midday meal and supper is a light evening meal. Due to modern life, most people in the US probably eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, at least on weekdays. My father grew up in rural Texas, and usually ate breakfast/dinner/supper (as did I when I visited my grandparents.)

    And it’s soda.

  3. #3 Colst
    June 27, 2006

    “I didn’t see anything reported regarding their methodology,”

    Well, you need to go to the main page for that ;)

    It’s an internet poll, vote here: http://www.popvssoda.com/

    It seems to be somewhat defunct, though, since one map hasn’t been updated since 2002 and the other hasn’t been updated since 2003 (whihc means my 2004 vote still hasn’r influenced either).

  4. #4 Left_Wing_Fox
    June 27, 2006

    I’ve travelled too much. The Canadianism is “pop”, but I have gotten some funny looks ordering an orange pop in Maine and California. It’s gotten to the point where I use the Sesame Street version: “Soda Pop”. They’ll recognize one of ‘em!

  5. #5 Dave S.
    June 27, 2006

    I’ve travelled too much. The Canadianism is “pop”, but I have gotten some funny looks ordering an orange pop in Maine and California. It’s gotten to the point where I use the Sesame Street version: “Soda Pop”. They’ll recognize one of ‘em!

    Serviette (=napkin) is another word that seems to flummox our friends to the south.

  6. #6 biosparite
    June 27, 2006

    Hey, we said “soft drink” a lot in
    washington, D.C. and suburbs. And when I was a kid in Atlanta, home of Coca-Cola, we called it “Co-Cola.”

  7. #7 biosparite
    June 27, 2006

    Hey, we said “soft drink” a lot in
    Washington, D.C. and suburbs. And when I was a kid in Atlanta, home of Coca-Cola, we called it “Co-Cola.”

  8. #8 Zach
    June 27, 2006

    In Oklahoma you are likely to hear this conversation:
    “Do you want a coke?”
    “Sure.”
    “What kind?”
    “Dr. Pepper.”
    I did that all the time at lunch in high school.

  9. #9 skywalkthisway
    June 27, 2006

    Breakfast/lunch/supper is what I grew up with, so don’t be knocking it! We understood supper and dinner to be interchangeable, though. My mother’s parents, just to be odd, did breakfast/dinner/supper with lunch as a late-night snack. But I do agree, it’s soda.

  10. #10 Stephen Uitti
    June 27, 2006

    In parts of Boston, it is pronounced ‘tonic’. It isn’t a big enough area to be the most popular name for a whole patch, though.

  11. #11 Qoheleth
    June 27, 2006

    Yet more evidence that Indiana is the northernmost southern state.

  12. #12 wheatdogg
    June 27, 2006

    I grew up in the NYC area saying soda. After living in Wyoming and Kentucky for almost 30 years, I now say pop.

    How about these two:
    (1) What do you call a submarine sandwich, a sub, hoagie, grinder, po’boy, or what?
    (2) When you ask for tea in a restaurant, do you get hot tea or iced tea? And if it’s iced, is it sweetened?

  13. #13 Spike
    June 27, 2006

    The first time I ever traveled south of the Mason-Dixon, I stopped in a town called Clanton, Alabama. When I went to the restaurant, I told the the waitress I wanted tea.

    She asked, “Sweetie?”

    I said, “Uh?”

    She asked, “Suh-weet tuh-ee?”

    “Yes, please,” I replied.

    She brought it and I took a drink. Every tooth in my head turned into a cavity and my blood sugar level rose over 400 points. I wonder how they manage to put 1 pound of sugar into an 8 ounce glass?

  14. #14 Abel Pharmboy
    June 28, 2006

    I often joke that Southern sweet tea has so much sugar, you could use it to spin down nuclei.

  15. #15 Dave S.
    June 28, 2006

    From wheatdogg:

    (1) What do you call a submarine sandwich, a sub, hoagie, grinder, po’boy, or what?
    (2) When you ask for tea in a restaurant, do you get hot tea or iced tea? And if it’s iced, is it sweetened?

    (1) A sub. We also have Middle eastern option called a ‘donair’, which is apparently virtually unknown in the rest of the world.

    (2) You get a little metal teapot filled with hot water and in that you can steep the tea of your choosing. If you want iced-tea, then you have to specifically request it. It’s not often requested though. If people want a cold, sweet drink they’ll usually order a soda (pop).

  16. #16 Ginger Yellow
    June 28, 2006

    Are you familiar with the Harvard Dialect Survey? http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_105.html

    The sweetened carbonated beverage map is unsurprisingly very similar to the one Tara links to: http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_105.html

  17. #17 Algerine
    June 30, 2006

    Methinks Dave S. must be from Nova Scotia. That’s the only place I’ve seen it. For the uninitiated, donair meat — at least the kind I’ve had — is just like gyro meat except it’s made with beef instead of lamb. Good stuff.

  18. #18 Chiefley
    July 5, 2006

    Stephen Uitti,

    No, tell them the truth. It is pronounced “tawnic”.

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