Pop or Soda?

 Countystats Total-County
Several years ago, Alan McConchie created the Pop Vs. Soda project that attempted "to plot the regional variations in the use of the terms "Pop" and "Soda" to describe carbonated soft drinks." I wonder if usage has shifted over time.
The primary source of data for this study will be submissions from readers of this web page. Obviously, this may not be a completely random sampling, but since the primary objective of the study is to map the regional distribution and not the population distribution per response, this sample should suffice. Also, since a large percentage of internet users are college students who may use dialects not local to their current place of residence, this survey asks for the respondent's "home town" and the beverage-term used by most of the population there. This data will be imperfect at best, but should be the most accurate possible without actually going into the field, and certainly the most comprehensive study of the field to date.
The Great Pop Vs. Soda Controversy


  1. Also interesting: “Soda” places tend to be the liberal parts of the country, while “pop” and “coke” tend to be conservative. (And that there’s a difference between a “pop” conservative and a “coke” conservative.)

    It reminds me a lot of Nassim Taleb’s argument in The Black Swan that party platforms tend to be “bundled” ideas, without much of a common thread. Perhaps it’s more than just bundled political ideals: they’re nascent, different cultures.

    1. I don’t know how much political ideology has to do with it. Everyone I know in where I live in Texas, Ron Paul is my representative, says “coke”.

    2. We say pop in Minnesota (although I personally say soda, which I picked up from a Wisconsin cousin), and we’re the only state to have never voted for Reagan, so there goes your theory.

    3. “Soda” places tend to be the liberal parts of the country, while “pop” and “coke” tend to be conservative.

      I’m not so sure about that…  Perhaps the map shows that in a few states, but it’s not even strong enough of a correlation for that statement to be even “mostly” correct, from what I see.

    4. That observation would suggest that places like Seattle, Chicago, Portland.Oregon are conservative while southern California,  Missouri, and Maine are liberal(!)   nah…. there’s no political correlation observable with this pop/soda data.

      1.  Maine’s pretty liberal, you know. :)  Used to be considered a conservative stronghold but then the conservatives went crazy, the liberals wandered rightwards, and…  well, it’s a state of frustrated fiscal conservatives without any real representation in government and social moderate-to-liberals.

        If you want to know what classic Maine Republicans are like, look up Olympia Snowe.  If she were just starting out in politics now, I’m not sure she’d be a Republican at all.

        1. Robert Anton Wilson once said it takes twenty years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single view. I think that same phenomenon is currently happening in reverse.

    5. Since the survey does not ask for our political affiliation, I would like to know where you get the inference that you do about conservative and liberal choices for carbonated beverage terms.

      Sample form the survey’s own data:

      California: Pop 791; Soda 16,127; Coke 2,615

      New York: Pop 6,416; Soda 14,069; Coke 425

      Texas: Pop 297; Soda 3,243; Coke 12,515

      If we believed you, then all three of these states would lean heavily conservative, with California leading the way, which is complete and utter nonsense. Nothing you asserted is true.

    6. Yeah, and people in Connecticut say “trash” while people in Mass. say “rubbish.”  What does that say about our comparative ideology?  Or do you think that maybe (possibly), languages tend to evolve based around the people with whom you communicate rather than what they believe?

      1.  Yeah, and people in Connecticut say “trash” while people in Mass. say “rubbish.”

        Wait, who says “rubbish”? Here in Boston, you might find grounds for a trash/garbage (“gaah-bidge”) distinction, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard rubbish except from the mouth of a Brit.

        1. Wait, who says “rubbish”? Here in Boston, you might find grounds for a trash/garbage (“gaah-bidge”) distinction, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard rubbish except from the mouth of a Brit.

          When I was growing up, garbage was food debris, went in a covered pit in the backyard and was picked up by a different truck than the one that picked up the rubbish from the can at the sidewalk. We also recycled newspaper, bottles and cans, and burned random paper in the fireplace, so rubbish was a pretty minor item.

        2. Life long New Englander with more than a decade in Boston. Totally Garbage, Sometimes Trash. Rubbish is from Brits and the occasional Elderly.

        3. Jere7my,

          I have lived in Western Ma. my entire life and can’t conceive of anyone
          referring to the contents of a “garbage can” being anything other than
          “rubbish”.  Oddly, the container for the rubbish is quite obviously, a
          “garbage can”.  “Trash”, we unfairly reserve for discussions of other

          1. I have lived in Western Ma. my entire life and can’t conceive of anyone
            referring to the contents of a “garbage can” being anything other than

            Oh, western Mass. Yeah, I drive through there sometimes.

            *ducks* :)

    1. Kinda big place dude…c’mon up and we’ll show you around.
      Not only is it not just south of San Diego and not west of Hawaii, it’s quite a bit bigger than portrayed as well.

  2. I grew up calling sodas soft drinks. But I took high school Spanish class, I changed to soda . I’ve called carbonated beverages soda since.

    1. It’s a big country.… I’ve never heard anyone use that expression before. Of course, I live in Toronto, so you may feel that disqualifies me from being properly Canadian :-P

  3. Every time I see this map I wish someone would update it.  It’s almost 10 years old right? Who knows what’s been changing in that time.

    I always considered “soda” the winner since it’s what you usually hear on TV and in movies.  Same with “sneaker” vs “tennis shoes.”

  4. Further evidence for central Indiana’s identity crisis (not that it helps explain). Don’t let the Ohio river fool you, it’s like the South around here – Confederate “heritage” shops, and all.

  5. I fondly recall when – growing up in Memphis – a new youth director took over from Chicago. He was absolutely flummoxed by how we called all soft drinks “Coke”, especially when referring to a vending machine (it’s always a “Coke machine”, even if it has Pepsi). We were equally amused that he called it all “pahp”, erm, “pop”.

    Seeing a visual representation of one of my favorite little memories really brightens my day. :-)

  6. How to confuse us native Oregonians…  

    Ask, “Would you like some soda with your fluffernutter?”

  7. Hilarious. I’m from Wisconsin, and the Soda/Pop debate seemed to be quite heated there. It was the kind of thing that would inspire a lively debate in English class.

    I wonder what historic or cultural influence caused our state to be so evenly split like that without any sodafolk leaking over into the Michigan yoopie (Upper Peninusa)?

  8. I call it the 12 teaspoons of sugar in a glass.

    in vancouver  – Pop.
    there is also  the great ‘pail or bucket’ divide across north america.

  9. In Canada, it’s only called mix or mixer in reference to liquor.  Otherwise, it’s always (in my experience) called pop.  Saying soda is one surefire way to out yourself as American.

    1. in germany, if you asked to go to the ‘bathroom’ people just looked at you funny because they thought you meant you need to take a bath. asking to go to the ‘toilet’ is the term they prefer

  10. Where I’m from (Canada, Alberta) The prevailing consensus is to use “Pop” to reference the general class of fizzy sugar drinks.  Coke is generalized for most Colas (though some call cola by Pepsi as preference when ordering from restaurants.)   Ordering a Rye N, Coke can result in Pepsi or Coke or in some rare cases some other value-brand Cola.

    I personally grew up calling it Pop but somewhere along the lines I started calling it Soda.  Since then I’ve been accused of being from the U.S. several times based entirely on the use of the word “Soda”. 

    Just my own observations and not a representative sample at all. :)

    1. As a kid at one point I remember making a choice to start calling it soda instead of pop, this was after reading the label on a bottle (it said “soda-pop”) and deciding it was the “proper” way to say it. Everyone else in my family, even mother who is canadian and the rest of my canadian relatives, still call it pop, it’s second nature for me to say soda though.

  11. Hehe. I grew up in CT, and when I was a kid my brother and I would get in heated arguments with our Ohio cousins over the terminology. Soda vs. Pop, serious business. :P

    1. Hey, me too! Grew up in Danbury, then moved to Wisconsin. Yes, the debate still rages on. Also: ‘high tops’ vs. ‘Chuckies’ and ‘water fountain’ vs. ‘bubbler’. lol

  12. My grandmother and her cohort would always call it “tonic.” This was eastern Massachu, circa 1980 or so. 

    1. Relatives from my father’s side (currently in mid-50s) from my father’s generation and older all still use tonic. It seems to have died out with my own generation (nearly 30) and all my younger siblings and cousins. We’re all from easten MA (the cities that ring Boston and the Cape) though I live in Canada now where pop rules.

    2. My grandmother and her cohort would always call it “tonic.” This was eastern Massachu, circa 1980 or so.

      Also Eastern Massachusetts, circa 1965, when I got a glass of half Moxie, half milk and a raisin cookie after school every day.

  13. I’m from St. Louis, so I’ve always ALWAYS said soda, surrounded by a sea of pop. It was proposed once that ‘soda’ was prevalent in places like St. Louis and Milwaukee because of the big breweries there, and people needed a way to differentiate between hard pop and soft pop. I don’t know if that’s the case, but I’d love to see some actual history to the terminology!

    1. St. Louis sure is an island of soda-sayers.

      Similarly, Indianapolis lies inside smaller, but just as distinct island of Coke-sayers in a sea of midwestern pop. Wonder why?

  14. Cincinnati: ‘pop’ by a landslide. Moved here from Southern Illinois~ previous comment about their localism ‘sodey’ is frighteningly correct. Got on my nerves even as a kid.

  15. I call it Mt. Dew.

    I want to know what the “other” category is…  Yeah I’ve heard soda, pop, and coke before, but what is other..?  From NC here, so most people around here call it soda, sometimes coke.  Usually if my wife ask for soda they respond with what brand they have, Coke or Pepsi.  Or she’ll say Coke or Pepsi, and they’ll ask is X is okay.  She’s not really picky.

    Or sometimes I also say sweet tea, but that’s not relevant to this discussion.

    Had some friends down from Wisconsin once and they said “Pop”, it was funny.  They also said “eh” a lot, which was weird.  It was like seeing the stereotypical Canadian come to life right in from of you.  It was a riot  Of course we appeared just as weird.  I learned we say “yeah” a whole lot.  They asked if that was our answer for stuff, and we looked at each other and said, “yeah”…..good times.

    1. The actual page about it lets you look at the data that was ‘collected.’ 

      ‘Other’ includes people who say anything from “sodie pop,” “mt. dew,” “mark’s an idiot,” or telling random life stories about why they choose to say what they say.

  16. True story:

    A girlfriend’s mother, who hailed from Ohio, visited Alabama for the first time and stopped at a small country store for a drink. A teenage boy was behind the counter. She asked him, “Where’s your pop?” He looked confused and replied, “Around back, I guess. Why?” She gave him an exasperated look and said, “Because I wanna get some!” The boy looked completely shocked. When she realized what had transpired, she ran out the door and drove away.

  17. I’ve heard “tonic” before, but never really understood calling it “coke” (or “Mtn. Dew?”).  A coke is Coca-Cola.  A Mtn. Dew is Mountain Dew.  It doesn’t make sense to me that someone could say, “hand me a coke,” receive a ginger ale, and be totally satisfied with that transaction.

    1. hmm, maybe that wasn’t clear that I really only like Mtn. Dew…..

      Oh well!  If I drink soda 99% of the time it’s the dew.

    2. My family is from the south and I’ve encountered this transaction many times, so I can shed some light on how it works: Person asks “Do you want a Coke?” You respond, “Yes, I’ll have a [insert brand name of soda you want – Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, etc.]” Person then gives you the item you requested.

      The term “Coke” is used in a generic fashion, much like “Kleenex” is used in a generic fashion to refer to tissue paper for your nose (or “Google” is used as a generic for web searching). At some point in the conversation you’ll get a chance to denote what kind of drink it is that you really want. If you didn’t explain yourself, you’d come off as strange.

  18. Most people I knew from Penn. called it soda-pop, i’m not sure where that fits in the map.  I imagine ‘other’ would be soft drink, drink or individual name.  I’ve heard mostly coke or soft drink while living here in NC.

  19.  “What kind of Coke do you want?” mystifies newcomers to the area. Calling it “coke” is going strong here even though it’s a big city with many immigrants from pop and soda territories. I think the kids switch to “coke” to establish a stronger peer connections and to separate from their parents’ culture.

    Sometimes you do hear older people from 3rd and 5th wards saying “soda water”.

  20. From Strange Maps: http://bigthink.com/ideas/21360

    coke: this generic term for soft drinks predominates throughout the South, New Mexico, central Indiana and in a few other single counties in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. ‘Coke’ obviously derives from Coca-Cola, the brand-name of the soft drink originally manufactured in Atlanta (which explains its use as a generic term for all soft drinks in the South).

    pop: dominates the Northwest, Great Plains and Midwest. The world ‘pop’ was introduced by Robert Southey, the British Poet Laureate (1774-1843), to whom we also owe the word ‘autobiography’, among others. In 1812, he wrote: A new manufactory of a nectar, between soda-water and ginger-beer, and called pop, because ‘pop goes the cork’ when it is drawn. Even though it was introduced by a Poet Laureate, the term ‘pop’ is considered unsophisticated by some, because it is onomatopaeic.

    soda: prevalent in the Northeast, greater Miami, the area in Missouri and Illinois surrounding St Louis and parts of northern California. ‘Soda’ derives from ‘soda-water’ (also called club soda, carbonated or sparkling water or seltzer). It’s produced by dissolving carbon dioxide gas in plain water, a procedure developed by Joseph Priestly in the latter half of the 18th century. The fizziness of soda-water caused the term ‘soda’ to be associated with later, similarly carbonated soft drinks.

    Other, lesser-used terms include ‘dope’ in the Carolinas and ‘tonic’ in and around Boston, both fading in popularity. Other generic terms for soft drinks outside the US include ‘pop’ (Canada), ‘mineral’ (Ireland), ‘soft drink’ (New Zealand and Australia). The term ‘soft drink’, finally, arose to contrast said beverages with hard (i.e. alcoholic) drinks.

  21. You can firmly place me in a non-pop and non-coke category, but I probably just refer to the specific kind of drink by name or use the more general term “a drink,” more often than I’d use a term like soda or soft drink. I really have no clue if I’d select “other” or “soda.” All I can say is that its not pop or coke. When I go to a restaurant, I’d probably ask, “What do you have to drink?” and if a friend came over, I’d ask, “Would you like anything to drink?” This makes sense to me because why limit the options to sugar water? If I want (or a guest wants) something else, say water, iced tea, beer, juice, wine, milk, etc. why limit the options?

    I’ve lived in “pop” land and you here “pop” all the time, but I’ve also lived in “soda” land and you don’t hear it much. Soda, soft drink, drink, etc. are all interchangeable and all less likely than naming the specific type/brand of carbonated beverage you want. All that is constant is that its not “pop” or “coke.” If pressed, I’d probably say soda or soft drink, but I really don’t have a default generic catch-all term, nor do most of the people I’ve met living in the various cities I’ve lived in (including Dallas, NYC, LA, and SF). I do sometimes refer to carbonated water as “soda water” but only to differentiate it from plain water or tonic or club soda. In fact, the only time I regularly use the word “soda” is in reference to soda water as in when I order “a vodka soda” for my wife (who doesn’t want the sugar from a vodka tonic).

    I’m hardly atypical in the various “soda” places I’ve lived. In fact, I’m somewhat convinced that “soda” country doesn’t exist. It’s something that “pop” and “coke” people label us as because they just assume we have a generic catch-all term for sugary carbonated beverages like they do, when, in reality, soft drink, drink, the specific name, or soda are all used pretty interchangeably without prejudice.

  22. Note that PA is divided on “soda” and “pop.”  As a native, I can tell you it’s probably a general rule that the Pennsylvanians who say “pop” also say the second person plural as “yinz.”

  23. Moving from soda-heavy California to pop-heavy Washington state when I was 9 was a bit of a culture shock.  I’ve called it pop ever since.

    1. I wouldn’t be so quick on that one. I’ve been living in Korea for 20 years now and speak Korean fluently. “Cola” is used as the word for a cola drink in Korea, while “Sa-i-da (cider)” is used as the word for a lemon-lime soda.

  24. intended as reply to al taylor:
    i’m tellin’ ya, i got a lotta western PA relatives, and they love their pop just as sure as the keller of the sky is blue… (bastard hicks– yinz indeed!)

    1. Grew up right in the middle of PA. The pop/soda boundary does follow the two general dialects, but you don’t have to be a yinzer to say pop. Also note that pretty much anybody east of the 814 area code will say “soda”, regardless of whether they’re coal crackers, Dutchy, Phluphians, or any other variation.

  25. I grew up in a definite “pop” area… “I want a pop. I want a Shasta!” was a popular line from a commercial when I was a kid.  Even though I’m an adult and moved to a different state, and though the image shows I’m still in a “pop” area, I now say “soda” most of the time.  I have no idea what caused the change.

    On a slightly different topic, I will NEVER call a “shopping cart” a “buggy” — buggies come behind a horse! :p

  26. Do people in the deep south have brain damage or something? A coke is a coke. NOthing else is a coke. And just what DO those green people in New Mexico call it?

    1. Think of saying ‘coke’ like the way people say bandaid, kleenex, chapstick, etc. Also, why be an ass about? Language goes through so many changes that are often times very non-sensical, like the way the word ‘sure’ is pronounced like it’s spelled with an ‘sh’.

      1. He probably already thought southerners were all slackjawed inbred hicks anyway. So he decided to be a pedantic ass because it would confirm his worldview.

  27. it’s an interesting map there must be reasons for it. Who can tell us the etymologies of these words and when they came into general use?
    In England a similar mapping project of a great many dialect words shows links back over 1000 years to areas which were colonized by Norse as against Angles and Saxons.  Whatever our political affiliations we are all very conservative when it comes to language.

  28. ‘Fizzy drink’ for me, over in England.  But that’s by no means a consensus.

    Soda = never, that’s archetypal American over here.

    Pop = sometimes, but a bit old-hat (you might even get that one from us… but I can’t be bothered to check)

    Soft drink = common

    Coke = any cola drink – but never a generic term.

    Carbonated drink = Sometimes, but a bit formal.

  29. Where’s the rest of the west? That doesn’t mention anything  other than ‘parts of northern california’ and ‘a few counties in nevada, utah, and wyoming’. 

  30. I find myself reminiscing about the delicious cherry phosphates I used to get at a classic drive-in in my hometown.  They oughta bring those back!

  31. I grew up in California having them called “soft drinks.” When I was visiting my grandfather as kid  he promised me a “pop” if I was good. I was so excited! I’d only heard of them on TV. I was so bummed when it turned out to be a regular ol’ soft drink.

  32. I live in the deep south/3rd coast area and it is very common to hear the term “Soda Water” which is hilarious! :]

  33. Harvard had a whole page on dialect maps…I find the variety to be more interesting that just soda vs. pop, and I discovered some usages that I had never heard of. Prof. Bert Vaux had them there on his page, and he moved them when he went to the Univ. of Wisconsin (he’s now at Cambridge):


    Sample questions: What do you call the long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, and so on? Which of these terms do you prefer for a sale of unwanted items on your porch, in your yard, etc.? What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket? What do you call the thing from which you might drink water in a school?

    Those last two introduced me to “buggy” referring to a shopping cart, and “the bubbler.” 

    1. Sample questions: What do you call the long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, and so on? Which of these terms do you prefer for a sale of unwanted items on your porch, in your yard, etc.? What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket? What do you call the thing from which you might drink water in a school?

      Those last two introduced me to “buggy” referring to a shopping cart, and “the bubbler.”

      Well, for this 4th generation native San Diegan born in 1969, those would have been sub, yard sale (unless you stayed in the shade and held a garage sale), shopping cart, and drinking fountain.  If you took your unwanted items to the drive-in on a Saturday morning, that would be the swap meet rather than the flea market.  Everyone I know who eats hoagies or grinders or heroes (or gyros) is an immigrant from outta state.  For shopping carts, I’ve heard British folks refer to trolleys, but I’d never heard them called buggies until my New Jersey-born assistant mentioned them last week.  And I’d never heard of “bubblers” before today.

      In my neighborhood, we’d usually ask each other if we wanted a soda.  Or sometimes a Coke, but that usually specifically meant a Coca-Cola, though not always.  And the vending machines were always Coke Machines, even for Pepsi drinkers like my dad.  Only weirdos from distant timezones would ask for a pop.  But my affectation was to ask for a sodee-pop, in part because I was the kind of guy who would always say “groovy” instead of “radical” (or that unlamented 1982ism “tubular”).

      Waiters would offer a choice of “soft drinks,” but the term seemed too stilted and formal for daily use in shorts-and-flip-flops San Diego.

      1. 1.  a sub
        2.  a yard sale
        3.  a shopping cart
        4.  a water fountain
        5.  a soda, as in ‘Can I get you a soda?’

        …and I’m from Washington state (first generation 1960s-1990s)  Maybe it’s a west coast thing?

        1. Maybe it’s a west coast thing?

          Yeah.  In my fairly limited travels, I didn’t start running into truly different terminologies for most things until I crossed the Mississippi.  Honestly, the first time I became aware of differing terminologies (including regional name brands) was when I started reading Stephen King novels in sixth grade.  His relentless usage of New England dialects and name brands was eye-opening to me.  Ring Dings?  A&P?  Narragansett beer?  “Ayuh”?  Dinner pails?  Constables?  Selectmen?

          What planet was he writing about?

  34. I never understood how people could use “coke” as a generic term without creating confusion, but thinking back to the two years I lived in Georgia I’m not sure I saw anyone consume any other kind of soft drink anyway. I’m pretty sure Pepsi is outright illegal in Atlanta.

  35. growing up in Alabama, I knew what “soda” was, even though I hardly ever heard anyone use that word – if you asked for a soda, you’d get one paired with a “so where are you from?”.
    I remember one time a kid who had just moved from Washington asked for a “pop” and no one in the room had any idea what she meant.

  36. In Hawaii people do say “Rubbish” and “soda” usually surrounded with other pidgin terms as in:
    “Eh, da kine go in da ‘rubbish'” or “Hemo da ‘soda’ from da truck”.

  37. I’ve lived in “pop” land my whole life, and I find the word exceptionally grating. It seriously is like nails on chalkboards to me.

  38. For all you generic coke haters: I never understood how people could request a Xerox, a Q-tip, a Band-Aid, a Kleenex, or a PC without utter confusion.

    I grew up in a coke area, but would only drink Dr. Pepper.

    These days I’ll only drink water, tea, or coffee.

    1. For all you generic coke haters: I never understood how people could request a Xerox, a Q-tip, a Band-Aid, a Kleenex, or a PC without utter confusion.

      The difference is that when you ask for a Xerox, you generally don’t care if the copy you get was made on a Ricoh machine. If you sneeze and ask for a Kleenex, you are still thankful if someone hands you a Puffs tissue. The brand of these items does not really matter.
      But when I ask for a Coke, I would expect to get a Coca-Cola. I wouldn’t want a Sprite or other soft drink. The brand and variety does matter.

  39. Anyone else notice the map hasn’t been updated since Oct 2003?
    It’s just below the map on the actual map web site that’s listed above

  40. It’s Coke, as in the waitress asking “What kind of Coke do you want?”

    Also: barbecue is done in a brick-lined pit. It can’t be done on a grill. That’s called “grilling”.

    1. To me, “barbecue” implies barbecue sauce, without which it’s just grilling.  But I am so far from a barbecue expert/purist.  I like it and eat it, but I barely know what a rub is.  Anyway, what do San Diegans know about barbecue, compared to folks from Kansas City or Tyler, TX?

      Wonder if there’s a geographic factor in the spelling of barbecue vs barbeque vs BBQ.

  41. I vote for soda, on the grounds that it presumably came first. Unless soda fountains were also called pop fountains and coke fountains.

    1. “Let’s go have egg creams at the coke fountain” just doesn’t work for me either.  I do want an egg cream, right now!

      1. You go right ahead, youngster.  I’m looking for a Cherry-Lime Rickey, myself. Just point me toward the nearest soda jerk.

  42. I’m from Kentucky and it’s always been coke. I didn’t know any different until college, when my roommate from Maine and my friend from Toledo both thought I was crazy. Of course, they didn’t agree with each other, either. Soda just sounds strange and I can’t get behind calling it pop. It comes out of my mouth with a Minnesota accent somehow.

  43. I actually use both soda and pop interchangeably with pop probably having a bit of an edge over soda.

  44. ok so here is my confusion. I understand the idea of calling it Soda and/or pop since the terms can come from soda water or soda pop or the like, but coke is a brand why would you call all carbonated beverages Coke? I don’t call all deli meats bologna, or all automobiles Chevy. What kind of Chevy do you drive? A Nissan Altima. It just doesn’t make sense can someone explain it please?

    1. Because Coca-Cola was THE soda pop when it came out, pre-dating Pepsi by about 10 years. Think of it like Xerox or Saran Wrap, not Chevy.

      The reverse happened in India, where Coca-Cola wasn’t widely available for decades because The Coca-Cola Company insisted on ownership of all production and bottling. Indian law required that an Indian company have at least partial ownership (IIRC), and Coke policy was to manufacture locally instead of export, so basically no Coke was available until the 90s (when either Coke or the Indian government budged–I think it was Coke). Pepsi, on the other hand, had no problems with that so in India, “Pepsi” is the catchall term like “Coke” is in the US South.

      1. Because Coca-Cola was THE soda pop when it came out, pre-dating Pepsi by about 10 years.

         But… but Dr Pepper predates Coca-Cola by a year or so.  I suspect sarsaparillas and root beers did as well, but probably not any nationally-known brands.

  45. Calling a soda a ‘coke’ is bad enough, but if I ever order a ‘tonic’ and get anything without quinine in it, heads are gonna roll. 

  46. Im from Madison, Wisconsin and I can promise you nobody says “pop”. Even though Madison (about an hour and a half north west of Chicago) is in the “pop” area of the map, its wrong. We all say “Soda”. I dated a guy from Texas and I found it absolutely hilarious each time he’d ask for a “coke”. A coke means cocoa cola… just like a pepsi means pepsi. And to who ever said their Wisconsin friends said “Eh”- they must have been from way up north near the UP of Michigan…because nobody in the southern half of WI says “eh”.. Ha Id laugh if I heard someone say that!

  47. I’d grown up saying “pop”, but now my preferences are settled, I always say Coke, because that’s what I want. It used to tickle us to no end to hear my aunt from Georgia call it “Co-Cola”.

    I grew up in the 70’s and saw a lot of advertising as a kid, too, so you’ll never hear me ask for a Hawaiian Punch out loud in mixed company.

  48. I’d say a fairly big percentage of New Zealanders would say “fizzy drink”. Also, we call 7-UP / Sprite etc “lemonade”. You get some odd looks if you ask for lemonade on a plane flight in the US.

  49. So what do any of you call it when you get all the flavors mixed up together? We called it “suicide”.

    Don’t say “stupidity”, either. We were just kids.

    1. A “graveyard”. I can still remember the annoyed look the counterperson at the Dairy Queen would make whenever we asked for one.

    2. We also called it a “suicide” when you’d mix all the flavors at the soda fountain.  Well, not quite all the flavors.  No point in adding the diet flavors, and I never knew anyone with enough stones to add horchata to the mix.

      1. Of course not diet flavors, or any nasty stuff like Materba*, for that matter.

        *A Cuban(?) soft drink made from the Yerba Mate plant, which is generally used to make tea, I think. My old boss called it “liquid crack”.

  50. I’m Australian, so…

    1.  a roll
    2.  a garage sale
    3.  a shopping trolley
    4.  a water fountain
    5.  a cooldrink.  As opposed to a cool drink, which is just any drink that is cold.  You have to say it fast and run together, almost skip the L.  Cooldrink.  Or soft drink if you’re being fancy.

  51. I’m from Buffalo, NY, and as you can see on the map it’s strongly “pop” territory, like Canada, and much of the Buffalo accent in general borrows from Canada. I went to school in Rochester, which is near NY’s divide on this map, and encountered many who said soda and many who said pop.

    I went to grad school in California, firm “soda” territory, and still live there now. I tend to say “soda” now, but it’s because I never liked saying “pop” – too onomatopoeic – and saying “pop” here gets you laughs and strange looks, anyway.

    That said, the reason I’m commenting is because just a few days ago I had the pop/soda discussion with a friend who is from CA, and then yesterday when speaking to the same friend I said “pop” in a sentence without thinking about it, realizing what I had done as it was coming out of my mouth.

    I try to maintain many of my Buffalo ways as a point of pride, but we still had a laugh about that one because “pop” really sounds ridiculous even when it’s what everyone says (I always cringe when I hear it back in Buffalo). When in Buffalo I use “soda” and “pop” interchangeably, but I get weird looks from saying “soda” there (especially from my family).

    1. what? buffalo accent borrowed from Canada? I’m from Fort Erie (across the boarder from buffalo), my aunt is from buffalo she has a really heavy buffalo accent, too me her pronunciation of a lot of words is strange.

  52. I didn’t have a “Coke-as-all-soda” experience until I was in a friend’s garage in Southern California. He asked me if I wanted a Coke and I said, “Sure.” He tosses me a Sprite like it’s no big deal. When being offered a “Coke” I don’t even want a _Pepsi_–I want a Coca-Cola Classic–no tricks! This was a serious WTF moment for me. Led to a long discussion of frappes, bubblers, jimmies, cabinets and other weird shit my forebears came up with. 

  53. I grew up in pop territory (MN), and then moved to another pop region (WA).  Now I live in Scotland where they call it “juice”.  That annoys me to no end.  No wonder diabetes is on the rise here if they think Pepsi is juice.

    Also, what the heck is wrong with Eastern Wisconsin.  Get with the program, people.

  54. heres my logical opinion on this, When some bodies name is shortened, for example: Robert, people will call him Rob. Rodney- Rod, Bobby-Bob. My point is, The original name we all know to be is Soda Pop. You wouldnt shorten Rodney to Ney or Chadwick to Wick, therefore, Soda-pop should be shortened to Soda, and not Pop.

  55. I grew up in Indianapolis, spawn of a New York mama and a Chicagoland dad. I do not use a generic term, generally speaking. If you want a Sprite, that differs from wanting a 7-Up. When forced to be general, though, I want to say “sodapop,” but am forced by convention to say “soft drink.” 

  56. Everyone needs to look at the stastics for “other.” From California alone –

    george of the jungle smack


    I’m Gay! Whew, I feel better now. I say Mountain Dew I still have all my teeth? I say soda.


    the Fizz

    for the person who thinks that florida
    uses the correct name by calling it COKE because they’re so civilized,
    just like their friends in alabama and mississippi who also call it
    coke, i dont think the votes from florida should count. they probably
    meant to vote for Soda but got confused by the unclear ballot and picked
    Coke accidentaly. the correct term is SODA


    As she stands in the clearing, the cold
    wind dances through the trees, swirling her golden mane over her
    diaphanous, silken black gown. The full moon melts into the paleness of
    her skin. As she stirs the cauldron of zinfandel she chants an other
    worldly incantation. From vials as old as the echos of time she adds
    minute pinches of her ancestry. Her slender fingers rub together as the
    grains fall, releasing their magic as they touch the fermenting must. On
    her face is the look of both good and evil, of love and hate, of life
    and sex and all that sirs you. What is this unearthly potion?

  57. When I lived in Mass. it was “tonic” and down in the Carolinas they simply called them “cold drinks”.

  58. Grew up in SW PA, POP territory. Now live in MN, also POP territory. The difference is I drank a CAN of pop or a GLASS of pop…here in MN it’s just a POP (paap) don’tcha know!

  59. According to Kipling’s dialect in “Soldiers Three,” Victorian Northumbrians said “pop.” So I suspect the distinction predates most of the beverages, and may not have originated in the US. 

  60. From Atlanta (native)

     Generic soft drink is a Coke… Co-cola will get you a Coca-Cola specifically.  Pepsi will get you dirty looks. 

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