A Soft Drink By Any Other Name

As a New Englander, we grew up thinking certain words were totally normal, only to have illusions shattered when we got to college. For example, a traffic circle is a “rotary” and a water fountain a “bubbler,” and we honestly didn’t know otherwise. Although we betray our Massachusetts roots with these words, our most pronounced regional words are definitely food terms, and the soda vs. pop vs. coke map that has been circulating this week has only fed into our latent stubbornness about the correct names for different foods.

First, this map. It shows “pop” dominating the Northwest and Midwest, “coke” being the preferred moniker in the South, and “soda” as the fave nomenclature in the Northeast and on the West Coast. (Soda is also the name of choice in all of the MenuPages cities. Fancy that!) The soft drink issue gets even fuzzier in the face of more obscure regional names. Supposedly, some people in New England call it “tonic” although we’ve never heard this. Ever. The Wikipedia page for soft drink naming conventions says that Southerners also call soda “drink” or “cold drink,” which just seems confusing.

We’re pretty sure that we’re right about soda being soda, but that’s hardly the last word in regional food names. New Englanders seem to be the most persnickety about their words, but the differences exist everywhere. One person’s milkshake is another one’s frappe, Floridians call Mahi Mahi “dolphin,” and some people put sprinkles on their ice cream while others go for jimmies. Aside from soft drinks, the sandwich naming divide seems to be the biggest of all, with hoagie vs. sub duking it out for top dog. Again though, a Wikipedia page exists for the Submarine sandwich category, and it is all over the place. Hero, grinder, po’ boy, Italian… and the list just goes on and on.

By the by, one last bit on the subject of the soft drink map: we’re super curious about what’s going on in sections of the map where one name is a complete outlier. What’s going on with that one northwestern corner of Nebraska where they call it soda in a sea of pops? Why is it that the two opposing coasts are both holding down the “soda” fort? (And can we turn this political?)

[Photo: via sx70manipulator/Flickr]

A Soft Drink By Any Other Name