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What do you call it?

I came across this map of U.S. terms used when referring to soft drinks.


I'm always intrigued by regional differences in terms, especially food related.
Any other categories that vary widely (or wildly)?

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  1. Interesting map title: "Generic Names for Soft Drinks". And that's what I call them generically: soft drinks. Otherwise I refer to them by brand name.

    1. In the UK, depending on where you come from, a sandwich is also known as a butty but also a bap. Although a bap is a kind of roll, I think!

      Going back to soft drinks, I have never heard the names soda or pop for a coke till I came to the USA. The Brits call them fizzy drinks or carbonated drinks or ask for each type by name. Soda water is seltzer. The Brits also have squash which is a soft concentrated drink diluted with water - these come in a staggering number of flavours and in the supermarket take up most of one aisle - not to be confused with American squash (zucchini etc).

      3 Replies
      1. re: smartie

        "Although a bap is a kind of roll, I think!"

        It is. And you could start a UK version of this thread just on the subject. I call a bread roll a barmcake (or just barm). 10 miles one way, it's a bap. 10 miles the other, it's a cob. Then there's oven bottoms, which are kind of bread rolls but different form the others.

        And "pop" used to be what we called carbonated drinks when I was a lad in the 50s.

        However, wherever you are in the UK, if you're eating a burger, it's on a bun.

        1. re: Harters

          Speak for your corner-- in mine, they seem all too keen to put the burger on a floured bap.

          1. re: Lizard

            Cor blimey. Yer learns summat ev'ry day. Like, yer know, innit.


        1. I checked out the map and it is accurate for my region, SE Texas. The overwhelming majority said coke, as in, "'I'll buy you a coke. What kind do you want?" Reply, "A Dr. Pepper," or Sprite, or whatever. I know it sounds stupid, but that's how we grew up.

          9 Replies
          1. re: James Cristinian

            I live in Southern NE and we still primarily refer to subs as grinders and when I first moved here in the 70's milkshakes were also called cabinets...

            1. re: James Cristinian

              I grew up that way in Virginia...everything is a Coke. And from there you specify "diet Coke" or "Dr. Pepper" or whatever.

              1. re: James Cristinian

                Yep, just like James in my neck of the woods here in Texas it is all Coke even if you want a Big Red.

                1. re: swamp

                  And we don't even HAVE Big Red (except the chewing gum) here in New England. But I learned about it from a woman I used to work with in Texas. "It's a small world after all..."

                  But Sean (above), you lost me at cabinets. I love a good grinder, but I never heard of a cabinet until your post. Does this mean you're from RI? :)

                  These little regionalisms are so interesting. How about "package store"--where does the line stop and start on that versus liquor store? We always use the term "packy run!"

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I'm going to go on a packy run, you want me to pick up grinders?lol gotta love ct

                    1. re: kubasd

                      That'd be great--welcome back home. :)

                    2. re: kattyeyes

                      Regionalisms indeed - Where I'm from Paki (pron. like your "packy") is a derogatory term for someone of Pakistani origin.

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Yes, I grew up in East Providence but currently reside in North Kingstown...

                  2. In New England, particularly around Boston, the name for soda used to be tonic, meaning any soft drink not tonic water. The usage is dying, as reflected in the map.

                    Anyone who's been to NE knows the long discussions about what a milkshake is versus a malt versus a frappe, even versus an ice cream soda. Usages could vary from town to town.

                    Another major difference is a sub sandwich, which used to be a grinder in NE, except in Maine, where it is often - still - called an "Italian" no matter the filling. It's also sometimes called a torpedo but the hoagie name is more middle Atlantic, more Philly.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: lergnom

                      In the Philly region, we call a fizzy soft drink a "soda". As you get to the western end of the state, however (Pittsburgh), it's called "pop".

                      Just as an FYI, I have seen those torpedo-shaped sandwiches called "grinders" here in Philly, however that term is used to refer to a hoagie that has been heated, usually in a pizza oven. A cold one is ALWAYS a hoagie. The name is thought to be derived from the sandwiches that immigrant shipbuilders in an area along the Delaware River called Hog Island used to bring for their lunch/dinner. An Italian hoagie (or just "an Italian") is a type of hoagie, using Italian meats & cheeses (cappicola, genoa salami, provolone) -- as opposed to turkey, roast beef or even tuna salad. The bread must have a crust that is crunchy, not soft all the way through, and the hoagie should be dressed with a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, Italian herbs/spices, salt & pepper.

                      1. re: PattiCakes

                        The word "hoagie" always makes me think of Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. :) Specifically, of the time he went for a stress test and had to stop eating them!

                      2. re: lergnom

                        I grew up in northern NJ, and they were always hoagies (Boy Scouts used to sell them as a fundraiser). Now, I'm in the Boston area, and subs are what I call them.

                        And it's always been "soda" for me. Not that I drink it anymore...unless it's ginger ale, and then I just ask for a ginger ale.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Hey Linda, grew up in smack Central NJ (New Brunswick area..) and we always called 'em subs. Oooh...Tastee Subs @ Stelton Rd. (I think...) and rt. 27 in Edison. Always just called soda "soda", unless referring to a specific brand; eg. "Bubble-Up" or "Wink". Weird that just a few miles away, you called 'em hoagies. Thought that was a Philly thing...as in South Jersey- Camden, Cherry Hill, etc. Where in north NJ were you? AFAIK, they called 'em subs in NYC, too. adam

                          1. re: adamshoe

                            I was in Bergen County - just over the river from Manhattan.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Linda, you may have been a Bergen County anomaly - we always called them subs ;)

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                LOL! I'm sure there were sub shops - my family just never went to them. But the Boy Scouts' fundraiser was most definitely called Hoagie Day. A Saturday, IIRC, and we'd go pick them up at some parking lot. :-)

                            2. re: adamshoe

                              I too am from Central Jersey (North Brunswick). We always called them subs. Such as "bring me a turkey and provolone sub from Tastee sub, and pick me up a soda while you're at it" (There is also a Tastee on rt 27 headed toward South Brunswick)

                          2. re: lergnom

                            Yeah, I haven't heard "tonic" in a long time. Even when we moved here (mid-80s) it was mainly the older townies that you'd hear saying "tonic".

                            1. re: jgg13

                              Yep, the same people who may know why the local package store is called a "spa."

                              1. re: lergnom

                                Never heard this term- please educate me!! TIA

                                1. re: macca

                                  i thought a spa was more of a soda fountain type place -- not a packy.

                            2. re: lergnom

                              Sooooorrrrrrryyyyyy...... but North of Boston... think up Rte 1 north.....a Sub is a sub sandwich with Italian cheeses and "cold cuts." I've lived here all my life and No One ever called it a torpedo, a hoagie or an Italian. It's a Sub, dammit.

                              1. re: Gio

                                You are absolutely right. Never hear- or heard- it called a torpedo or a hoagie. It is a sub- and a sub is never confused with a grinder!

                            3. I grew up in NW PA and it was and still is pop and hoagies.

                              I live in CA and it is soda and subs

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: laliz

                                Parts of the Northeast some places call subs "wedges" or "grinders". I believe what we call "sprinkles" (to put on cupcakes or ice cream cones) in NY, they call "jimmies" in parts of New England.

                                1. re: markabauman

                                  jimmies are the chocolate sprinkles only, not rainbow sprinkles.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Sez you. I always get a wonky look when I ask for rainbow sprinkles around Boston, and more often than not get the "oh, jimmies" comment.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      Hmm, I've lived in and around Boston for about 25 years now and I've seen nothing but derision for using 'jimmies' for the rainbow kind. OTOH, poking around using google seems to show this as being a matter of some debate (although chocolate is always 'jimmies') so who knows.

                                  2. re: markabauman

                                    My mother is a NYC native, and they've always been jimmies to her.

                                2. UK biscuit US cookie and then translate scone,
                                  UK crumpet US english muffin
                                  pancake to become a fairly universal working noun is rather recent

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lcool

                                    Close, but not quite:

                                    In the UK a crumpet is a crumpet, but a UK muffin is a US English muffin.

                                    Meanwhile, even if not relevant to lcool's post, I love the Boston talk-- I haven't thought about "jimmies" in ages, and find that I cannot even say "tonic" without reverting to the accent. (Then again, it happens out here too where everyone hears a sudden burst of Boston when I say "Worcester")

                                  2. I've lived my whole life in Michigan and it's always been pop. I only say it when referring to it in general, as in "Shoot, I forgot to get pop at the store". When I order in a restaurant I usually specify what I want. Although lately I've taken to saying "Diet soda" instead of Coke because it seems I'm often asked "Is Diet Pepsi ok?". Get's to the point easier to just say soda. I have no clue why soda pops (no pun intended!) out of my mouth instead of cola.

                                    I wish more places served Diet Mountain Dew, I'm not much of a cola drinker but it's usually what I'm stuck with for a diet selection.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Alicat24

                                      when they ask "Is Diet Pesi ok?" you must always answer an emphatic NO!

                                      Diet Coke or water.

                                      1. re: laliz

                                        HA HA HA, see other thread of the same sentiment. :)

                                        1. re: laliz

                                          Hear, hear! However, I drink water all day long at home and when I go out I want something that's NOT water. ;) I've drunk diet for about 7 yrs. now and I just can't handle the sugary lemonade's, ice tea's, orange pops, etc. So for me, Coke please, but I'll deal with Pepsi if I can't have Dew

                                          Little anecdote. My sister kinda jumps back and forth between diet pop and regular, as opposed to me that only drinks diet. A few weeks ago, she'd gotten lunch at BK and had regular Coke. I stopped at BK shortly after for a beverage on the way to her house (not knowing if she'd have any diet). I got a newly offered Coke Zero and was thrilled with how much (to my diet pop tastebuds) it tasted like real sugar Coke.

                                          I got to my sisters, we putzed around and whatnot, I thought to tell her how great and close to sugar pop Coke Zero tasted to me. She took a sip of it, screwed up her face and said "No, not even close, that's still diet!". Her loss (or rather gain of calories), I love it.

                                        2. re: Alicat24

                                          And do you buy your pop at the "party store"? I think that's a Michiganism.

                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                            You would be correct! Definately the "party store". I still have scars on both of my knees from riding on the handlebars of a friends bike while going to the corner party store to return my Dad's empties and pick-up a new 8-pack of Diet Pepsi. She stopped quickly for a car on the side street, the 8-pack of glass bottles flew off of my lap and I landed in the shattered glass!

                                            I always flip to the "P's" for Party store in the phone book here in Western MI (transplant from the East side) and instead have to look under the "C's" for convenience store or a bit more scarce, in the "G's" for "Gasoline stations".

                                            I dig your name. I love me some Coney's! We can't get anything decent here compared to what is to be had in Detroit and her suburbs. The best is Great Lakes Chili Dogs in Grand Haven, not to be confused with G&L which has a few locations and tastes to me like Skyline/Cinci chili w/ cinnamon or nutmeg in it.

                                            It really cracked me and the Hubby up when we saw on a Food Network show about a year ago that in New York (or Jersey, can't remember) "our" coney's are referred to as "Michigan Dog's" or just "Michigan's". How ironic is that?!

                                          2. re: Alicat24

                                            Alicia: My sister lived in MN for a few years while her kids were young. They were swimmers, and the big treat at the swim meet snack stands was the duo of "a pickle and a pop" for $1. Every time she would talk about it, I'd crack up -- not only because it sounded funny to my Philadelphia ear, but because it was such a strange combination. Try picturing 8 year old swimmers in speedos, munching on a big dill pickle and swilling a pop.

                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                              Hi PattiCakes! It's actually Alicat or just Ali, not Alicia (although I love that name, very pretty!). I have never heard of "a pickle and a pop" but it sounds pretty good to me! I think you may have mistaken Michigan for Minnesota.

                                              I didn't check out the maps for regional names but MN is just over Lake Michigan and, oh a state or two, so it wouldn't surprise me if they said "pop" as well! It is a funny visual though!

                                          3. I grew up in MO and attended college in the middle of the state. We could generally tell which part of the state people came from by whether they called in pop (KC and NW MO) or soda (St.L & SW MO). I now live in MA where some people call it tonic, have lived in TX where people call it soda water. In Paraguay, South America in the early 80s the generic term was "una coca" as in "┬┐Quien quiere una coca?"

                                            There's a book by Joel Garreau entitled "Nine Nations of North America" which looks at North America by regions based on various different factors including language usage.
                                            While not food related, firefly & lightning bug comes to mind, though we used both names in MO.

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                Appears to be the same map, just different way of getting to it.

                                              2. re: lgss

                                                Lived in KCMO for a few years, and there it was called 'Pop' - in fact, when I first went into a Piggly Wiggly and saw that Aisle 4 sign dangling with the word 'Pop' - I sort of felt like I was losing my mind... I knew it as 'soda' - I met one gal who called them 'Co-Cola's' -
                                                (oh and I call them Hoagies, for the most part- S.Jersey,)

                                              3. And let us not forget "sody", which is how it was pronounced in the blue-collar circles where I grew up.

                                                1. Southern Ontario is solid "pop" country, like adjacent US areas of Michigan and western NY. Going away to college in New England this "soda" thing was very surprising to me. That and how the smug NYC kids all said "the city" and we were supposed to know what that meant!

                                                  I'm curious if parts of eastern Canada next to New England follow the US with soda or if all English-speaking Canada uses pop.

                                                  I also wonder what the heck are the 'other' words that are locally favored, in particular in parts of MD, VA, and NM. Anybody know?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: maple99

                                                    I've been wondering about the "other" words too. I've heard "fizzy water" and "sugar water", but their usage seemed more individual quirks rather than regionalisms.

                                                    1. re: maple99

                                                      I grew up in MO where we referred to Kansas City as "the city", imagine that. The local public school served hoagies, but I had never heard of them/or had them before that and as and didn't know anyone who did.

                                                    2. I posted the same map a couple of times in the past.