What do you say? “Pop”, “Soda”, or “Coke”? Careful — you’ll give yourselves away! [classic article]

Do you refer to soft drinks as “pop”, “soda”, or “Coke”? What you call it has to do with where you are from. Here’s an interesting map by US counties. I’m from Chicago and I get teased unmercifully for being a “Yankee” (and that’s to my face), because I most naturally call the stuff “pop”.  When I’m in a less-formal situation, I do call it “soda,” but it feels like I’m speaking a foreign language to foreign people.

Coke was invented by a pharmacist in Atlanta, so that probably explains why the Deep South calls it “Coke”, no matter what they’re drinking. According to Tastyresearch.com, the Brits and Canadians call the stuff “pop”. That would explain the popularity of the word in areas that were strongholds of British exploration — the Great Lakes states. Kentucky is an interesting anomaly: while they carefully publicize themselves as being “Southerners,” the eastern half (which incidentally, “went” plenty Union during the Civil War) clearly says “Pop”.

Maybe most interesting is Maryland’s use of words. Maryland is most aligned with its Mid-Atlantic state sisters, saying “soda,” except for Somerset and Worcester counties, who say “Coke”. The Eastern Shore is the part of Maryland that was home to the Maryland 2’d, CSA. Those two counties are still in touch with their Southern roots!

Coke wasn’t invented until 1886, way after the Civil War. However, it wasn’t a long time to those who were (or are!) still fighting the “Lost Cause”.

I dug into all this — though I have always been interested in the semantic argument — when a friend asked Facebook friends if we “remembered” calling soft drinks “dope” and specifically, the brand of pop called “Dope”. Man, if I didn’t spend all this time on Ebay and Google looking for Dope. I want this pop on my shelf of crazy things! I do have such a shelf…I was big into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a kid.

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