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East Coast and Soda--Love Affair?

Over the years I have noticed that more families back East seem to drink cola for lunch and dinner compared to those on the West coast. To be specific, I've noticed more cola drinkers in New Jersey, MA, and PA than say in CA, OR or WA. This is based on my observations during my travel (albeit limited) and reality t.v. show watching.

A caveat, the families on these t.v. shows are of a certain socioeconomic status and probably have a higher tendancy to drink soft drinks, regardless of geographic location. That said, it still seems to me that cola drinks are more prevalant on dinner and restaurant tables on the East coast.

This isn't a judgmental post, I promise. I just love spotting trends, whether they are only in my head or actually out there.

What say you, chowhounders on either coast?

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  1. I don't know if it is something unique to the east coast. I live in the midwest and have always seen people drink pop with their meals. Milk is also common, but plenty of people drink soda.

    1. When I'm on the east coast, none of my friends drink soda at dinner. We always have either alcohol or water. Same as when we're on the west coast.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        Is this different when you are with families and dining on the east coast?

        1. re: woodandfine

          I honestly don't dine with children. My friends get sitters.

      2. I grew up in California. Didn't drink soda with dinner. Milk or water, sometimes juice as kids. None of my friends did either. Generally no one drank soda except with fast food or on special occasions or after school when you got into your teens.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          I grew up in DC and it was the same. Soda was never served with meals.

        2. I grew up in the NYC area. We always drank water or soda with lunch or supper. Nevr had dinner, as we always ate our evening meal after 6PM.

          But, it's important to realize that there is a heavier concentration of Jews in the northeast than elsewhere in the country, and while most are not observant, we are loathe to drink milk with a meat meal.

          My mother served meat for lunch and dinner, and while not kosher, milk would never come to the table. In fact, I still drink my coffee black, as cream was never served with after supper coffee.

          4 Replies
          1. re: bagelman01

            I had thee same childhood experience as bagelman01. Water or soda. My mother would insist on "No-Cal" club soda, ignoriong my comments that all club soda is sans calories.

            One time my father asked me what wine he should get for some roast beef they were serving to guests. I told him to get a good red wine; he came back with a bottle of Ruby Port.

            These days, though, my wife and I (both originally New Yorkers) generally have wine with dinner. Our son, however, married a woman (also from New York) who drinks Diet Coke with everything - cheese fondue, broiled salmon, Pad Thai, etc.

            P. S. I put milk into my coffee, regardless of what I ate for diinner. But then, we both love pork chops.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Your response is precisely mine, bagelman. Growing up in a Jewish household in Brooklyn, my brother and I almost always had soda with dinner. Milk was served with breakfast, sometimes with lunch, always after school with a snack, and never at dinner. We even had soda and seltzer delivered regularly to the house

              1. re: bagelman01

                Pardon my ignorance... Why no milk with meat?

                1. re: lynnlato

                  The simple answer: because Gd said so.

                  The more complicated but better thoughtout answer:

              2. The southern east coast has a high concentration of Baptists, who adhere to the faith's tenets to abstain from drinking alcohol, so they will oftentimes have soda with meals, especially when eating out.

                4 Replies
                1. re: weezycom

                  Some Jews have much the same reluctance about wine. It is not as generally known as the dietary laws against pork or shellfish, but wine not made by Jews is considered non-Kosher..

                  For Passover, the consumption of wine is part of the ceremony. For this purpose, secial Passover wie is made, doubtlessly Kosher, but unfortunately, traditionally sickeningly sweet.

                  1. re: ekammin

                    What have you been drinking? Stay away from the Mogen David and the Manishevitz and you'll be just fine. There are many Kosher L'Pesach wines that are drinkable and enjoyable - Israeli Wine County has been producing many fantastic wines for years.

                    1. re: TampaAurora

                      You're right, Israel does produce some very good, dry wines. But no better, IMHO, then, say, a good Ontario Chardonney, or, for that matter, Italian Montepulciano, at a much lower price. So, since I'm not kosher, those are usually my choice for everyday meals, pizza, pasta, etc.

                  2. re: weezycom

                    Or alcohol in their coffee mug, unbeknownst to others. :)

                  3. Did you ever think that maybe tap water on the East coast is worse than that on the West? Perhaps most people drink soda because they don't have a Brita on hand to run the tap water through... then again, I wouldn't drink Texas' tap water either...

                    Soda is cheaper than alcohol and more interesting to the taste buds than milk or water.

                    Additionally, Mormons do not drink soda and I believe there are higher populations on the West coast and in the Mid-west, than in the East.

                    Finally, most of the TV that you are watching... do the majority of the shows have teenagers or young adults in them? I drank a significantly higher amount of caffeine (read: soda) when I was that age, than I do now.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: sknuk

                      If it's true that tap water is worse on the East coast, seems to me that there are better alternatives than soda. My experience up and down the West coast is that tap water isn't all that great. It has a metallic aftertaste. Still, as a child, my only options for beverages were tap water or juice. Although juice is high in sugar, it does not have as many deleterious effects as caffeinated, acidic soda.
                      Once bottled water hit the market, I switched to that as did many of my friends and family members.

                      Regarding reality t.v. shows, I've noticed parents drinking soda along with their children. That is what I found surprising. I find it egregiously irresponsible to have soda become a regular part of lunch and/or dinner. This is especially considering our nation's problem with child obesity and the steady rise in diabetes.

                      There I go being judgmental. It comes down to a cultural thing, I suppose.

                      1. re: woodandfine

                        If you are making some of these assumptions based on TV shows, you might want to think again. Many, if not most, food and drink consumed on TV is paid advertisement. If you're watching a "reality" show and the person is obviously drinking Diet Coke, you can bet that Coca Cola paid to have their product there. If the company didn't pay to play, they'd be drinking from cups rather than the cans.

                          1. re: mojoeater

                            My assumptions are not based on t.v. shows where soda brands are displayed.
                            This is not about product placement.

                            1. re: woodandfine

                              So how do you know these people on TV are drinking soda?

                              1. re: mojoeater

                                Well let's see....said families are drinking what looks to be carbonated, dark liquid. Could be very dark tea I suppose.

                                Again, I have also noticed during business and personal trips back East, that families of co-workers and friends, and restaurant patrons seem to drink soda more than those same groups here on the West.

                        1. re: sknuk

                          East Coast tap water is usually very highly rated. IIRC, in the mid 90's, NYC tap water was rated the best in the country. Poland Spring and many other bottled waters are essentially NE tap water. My experience is that NE and Western tap are fine. Tap in the south (Baltimore and below) tastes musty/mildewy to me.

                          1. re: sknuk

                            Hmm, I like east coast tap water.

                            1. re: cstr

                              Mine too. When I see families drinking soda at the lunch and/or dinner table, it sends chills down my spine. As a child, a sweetened beverage was a very, very rare treat. To have that as a staple just sends the wrong message.

                            2. Even on the Chowhound Not About Food Board, the lack if scientific hygiene behind your post is giving me a hive.!!!!!!

                              Drinking soda with dinner is not East Coast/West Coast, it's socioeconomic.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Kater

                                Read my post again, please. You will note that I admit there must be a socioeconomic status variable. Also, I admit my basis for this observation is unscientific and purely anecdotal.

                                1. re: woodandfine

                                  Making an assertion of that sort based on your affinity for reality television goes beyond unscientific!

                                  Read my post again, I offer it with a sense of fun.

                                  One hopes this isn't a serious discussion.

                                  1. re: Kater

                                    "affinity for reality television"? You're off on that one.

                                    Are any of these serious discussions?

                                    One hopes your sense of fun lightens up.

                              2. Yes, it's mainly a socioeconomic issue. But geographical as well. I grew up in California and live in New York city now, and the only place I've been where people drink soda with all their meals is the South. Some Southerners drink Coca-Cola for breakfast, which is just weird to me.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: NYCkaren

                                  Really? Not my experience and I've lived in the south for 14 yes now. Southerners drink sweet tea with their meals, generally speaking.

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    Yes sweet tea is popular, of course. With so much sugar it's just as sweet as Coke.

                                    1. re: NYCkaren

                                      You got that right. So sweet it'll make ur teeth hurt.

                                  2. re: NYCkaren

                                    Lets see...I am from the South and I drink tea...sweet and unsweet,lemonade, soda pop..regular and diet,ginger ale, water, and adult beverages with meals. Oh and I don't drink milk even though my hubby and kids drink it but I do enjoy buttermilk with some meals.