Soda Lingo from All Over America

An article in the Journal of English Linguistics (Soda or Pop?, #24, 1996) explores the way we address our favorite drink. Soda, which the average American drinks about 43 gallons of per year, has a lot of different names. Those names have been mapped by county so that the regions where different names are predominant light up like a Christmas tree. Check it out below (click to enlarge):

As it turns out there are three predominant terms that people use when asking for a soft drink.  The first is the most logical, “soda.”  It’s the most popular in New England, the Mid-Atlantic (where I’m from), and the Southwest.  The term comes from the original name for carbonated beverages.

The next one is “coke.”  This one is interesting because it’s the shortening of the world’s most popular soda, Coca-Cola.  Talk about brand association.  A friend of mine from Texas (the word is most popular in the South) actually asks for a “coke” in her home town, and then when prompted to specify what kind, she’ll say “Sprite.”  To me this is very counterintutive because Coke and Sprite are nothing alike, but that’s just how the lingo has evolved.

The last one, and the bane of my existance, is “pop.”  In terms of geographical area, this one is by far the most popular.  The parts of the North that aren’t in New England, the Midwest, and the Northwest all predominantly use the term “pop,” as in short for “soda pop.”  Personally, this one has always just bothered me because soda is just “soda.”  Everyone has their own way of doing things I guess though.

One thing that should be noted is that this is a map that gives a percentage of use to each county.  The counties are not all equally populated, so these numbers really don’t speak to the overall number of people in the country who use these terms, just regional approximations.  It would be interesting to see that data as well.

For more info on the paper and the derivation of soda nicknames, check out this article on Strange Maps.

Advertisement





18 Responses to Soda Lingo from All Over America

  1. -here's a little pop tidbit:

    'Soda has a pH of about 1.5 and normal blood pH is

    between 7.2 to 7.4

    It takes 32 glasses of alkaline water at a pH of 9 to

    neutralize the acid on ONE 12 oz can of soda. Most

    people don't drink that much water, and if they do,

    it's just regular water, not water that has been

    alkalinized. So in order to keep your blood at a

    neutral pH, your body uses the only thing it has to

    buffer that acid…the calcium from your bones. For

    every can of soda, your body withdraws 20mg of calcium

    from the bones.

    When your body is an extremely acidic state, that is

    when disease develops.'

    http://www.unhinderedliving.com/soda.html

  2. Very interesting. I think it's odd how the nation is segregated by who says what in reference to.. Carbonated beverages.

  3. Very interesting. I think it’s odd how the nation is segregated by who says what in reference to.. Carbonated beverages.

  4. -here's a little pop tidbit:

    'Soda has a pH of about 1.5 and normal blood pH is

    between 7.2 to 7.4

    It takes 32 glasses of alkaline water at a pH of 9 to

    neutralize the acid on ONE 12 oz can of soda. Most

    people don't drink that much water, and if they do,

    it's just regular water, not water that has been

    alkalinized. So in order to keep your blood at a

    neutral pH, your body uses the only thing it has to

    buffer that acid…the calcium from your bones. For

    every can of soda, your body withdraws 20mg of calcium

    from the bones.

    When your body is an extremely acidic state, that is

    when disease develops.'

    http://www.unhinderedliving.com/soda.html

  5. I live in Canada (BC) and we usually use the term "pop" too. I never use the word "soda" because I think it sounds weird to me but I guess it just depends on where you live… if I lived in the southwest, I'd probably use soda too.

    It's like the words "dinner" and "supper" … my friends and family from Saskatchewan, Canada where I was born uses "supper" and I never hear that word where I live!

  6. I live in Canada (BC) and we usually use the term “pop” too. I never use the word “soda” because I think it sounds weird to me but I guess it just depends on where you live… if I lived in the southwest, I’d probably use soda too.

    It’s like the words “dinner” and “supper” … my friends and family from Saskatchewan, Canada where I was born uses “supper” and I never hear that word where I live!

  7. Hey, "pop" isn't only midwest. It's what's used in Western New York and Pennsylvania. It makes more sense than soda. Soda is just carbonated water (and boy does it taste nasty). Pop is the sound the can makes when you open it.

  8. Hey, “pop” isn’t only midwest. It’s what’s used in Western New York and Pennsylvania. It makes more sense than soda. Soda is just carbonated water (and boy does it taste nasty). Pop is the sound the can makes when you open it.

  9. I live in one of the areas that supposedly uses "coke" strongly to refer to soda in general and have never heard a single person use it that way, period. My guess is that the question was unclear. People simply don't use coke to refer to sodas in general (at least here); that's asinine.

  10. I live in one of the areas that supposedly uses “coke” strongly to refer to soda in general and have never heard a single person use it that way, period. My guess is that the question was unclear. People simply don’t use coke to refer to sodas in general (at least here); that’s asinine.

  11. In the UK, "pop" is the word. Although probably only used by mums off of the 80's. Most people would ask for the specific item – eg "coke" or "lemonade". Soda here only means carbonated water.

  12. In the UK, “pop” is the word. Although probably only used by mums off of the 80’s. Most people would ask for the specific item – eg “coke” or “lemonade”. Soda here only means carbonated water.

  13. I know the map shows all that part way up in the north central and north west as POP country…but in all of my travels, the ONLY people who call it pop are from West Virginia. Go anywhere else, ask for a pop in burger king, etc… and you get blank stares. I know this probably right, but I don't really believe the map.

    Davet….interesting to know that it's pop in the UK. Any other Europeans out there want to comment?

    But, I've got a new one for you to add. My wife and I recently moved to Serbia (no, not Siberia…Serbia). Here the generic term used is ??? (sok). But, the funny part is….that's the same word they use for juice. So kids take heart…there is someplace where pop is on part with juice!

  14. I know the map shows all that part way up in the north central and north west as POP country…but in all of my travels, the ONLY people who call it pop are from West Virginia. Go anywhere else, ask for a pop in burger king, etc… and you get blank stares. I know this probably right, but I don’t really believe the map.

    Davet….interesting to know that it’s pop in the UK. Any other Europeans out there want to comment?

    But, I’ve got a new one for you to add. My wife and I recently moved to Serbia (no, not Siberia…Serbia). Here the generic term used is ??? (sok). But, the funny part is….that’s the same word they use for juice. So kids take heart…there is someplace where pop is on part with juice!