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Is it "Soda" or "Pop" ?

I grew up in southern Ohio...It is surely "Pop". I live in south Florida now and very rarely hear the term . It is almost always "Soda"...

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  1. My best friend who is from Long Island calls it SodaPop... I call it soda, but English is not my first language, so it doesn't count

    1. We said the brand, either Coke, Barq's or 7up. If i am getting a soft drink that i will pour myself i always say I'll have a coke and decide what I want.

      There ave been a few other threads regarding te regional uses of soda and pop.

      2 Replies
      1. re: roro1831

        Im with you there,,,I call it "coke" and decide the flavor from there.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          and checkout the website referenced from the map. Interesting study, and untill it was pointed out I hadn't noticed, but it appears that the mason-dixon line is alive and well.

          4th generation San Franciscan, we called it soft drinks. In Hawaii it's always soda. But then we use a wagon in the grocery store, not a shopping cart.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            In MO, OK, CO, TX, CA, and WA they're called shopping carts. Here in MA they're called carriages.

            1. re: lgss

              Um... that might depend on what part of MA. In Medford, Malden, etc., we always said "shopping carts".

              1. re: brandywiner

                Interesting. My clients in Watertown and Arlington call them carriages. I think the corrals for them in S&S parking lots say something like "Please return carriages here". My husband (Cambridge) uses either term.

                1. re: lgss

                  Wow... It never occurred to me that it was that finely divided. It reminds me of the mystery novel (by Jeremiah Healy) in which the PI ID's his prosepctive client as being from Medford because she pronounces the word "weird" as "we...id", which is exactly how my sister said it!

                  1. re: brandywiner

                    I checked today and the S&S on River in Watertown has "carriages" on the corrals. The parking lot in Arlington doesn't have corrals. Your sister probably pronounces it Meh'fuhd, too.

        2. It's Coke. then you ask what flavor--sprite, 7up, etc. At least that's true in Teas and the south. Up in the PNW, it's pop.

          It is a very regional thing. Here is one of the best things ever on the internet--a map which shows regional usage.


          9 Replies
          1. re: cocktailhour

            Western PA also says "pop". However, Central and Eastern PA says "soda".

            Here in the South it's "coke".

            1. re: cocktailhour

              Right, in Texas with an x, it's coke, as in, "What kind of coke do you want?" "I'll have a Dr. Pepper."

              1. re: James Cristinian

                I still say for my area in Dallas growing up it was "cold drink". What kind of cold drink do you want? Dr. Pepper, of course!

                1. re: Scargod

                  That's what we said in Houston , and since Houston is bigger than Dallas, coke has got be right. Just kidding, but If I was hanging around my aunt's general store in New Waverly, it was likely to be an orange or strawberry crush, since it always seemed to be a zillion degrees outside, like it has been in Texas for the last month.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I just can't believe that nobody else said "cold drink". And this was before I got to drinking adult beverages. Now I say, "Isn't it beer-thirty?" or "time for a cold one".

                    1. re: Scargod

                      Time for a cold one I've heard. How about time for a brewsky?

                    2. re: James Cristinian

                      I grew up in Mississippi, and now I live in Houston, and it's all coke!
                      Orange Crush...mmmm...haven't had one in about 35 years...

                  2. re: James Cristinian

                    In Louisiana, it's coke. I live in the Dallas area now, and it seems like everyone i know calls it coke as well.

                  3. re: cocktailhour

                    Sam and cocktail

                    Thanks so much for your (simultaneous) posts of the link to that map. I have never liked either of the terms "soda" or "pop," both of which I have encountered as I have moved through life. Now I know why. On that map, the county I grew up in in Southern Indiana is a lonely green in a sea of other colors--in fact we seem to be right on the switchover point between pop and coke, with soda not too far to the west. However, we didn't use "other" as the map's legend suggests (LOL). We used "soft drink" if I recall correctly my youth.

                  4. My grandmother always called soft drinks "tonic". She was originally from the Boston area but lived most of her life on the South Shore in MA.

                    I am in Boston and use "soda", but have heard "pop" tossed around as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pickledtink

                      Definitely "tonic" was the term for all kinds of soft drinks growing up in Boston in the 1960's. Soda and pop have come in later from all the students from other parts of the country.

                    2. I grew up in Atlanta, the home of Coca-Cola. It's always Coke, Coke and more Coke. There were a few years when Burger King switched to Pepsi and I would cause a minor scene with much eye-rolling and saying "what do you mean, you don't have Coke!" I'm sure it was on that basis that they switched back to the only *soft drink* worth drinking.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: c oliver

                        Agreed with c oliver 100%. It's "Coke" or in more rural areas, "Co-Cola." I always order Coke by name in a restaurant, even (especially) when I know they don't serve it. If waiter says, "Is Pepsi okay?" I say, disgustedly, "NO" and then order tea or water.

                        1. re: steakman55

                          You beat me to it! My grandma used to say "Co-cola"-I always thought it sounded kind of fabulous!

                        2. re: c oliver

                          No coke, Pepsi. Cheeburger cheeburger pepsi pepsi, chips. Then No Pepsi. Coke, we switched.
                          After final exam in Texas, teacher said Miller Time.
                          In Queens, NY they said soda.

                          1. re: phantomdoc

                            Billy goat! They do make a good burger. Miss that place under Michigan Avenue.

                          1. re: rizzo0904

                            Make that twahnic. You can buy it at the spaah.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              The spaah down the boulevahd? I'll take the cah! Maybe pick up some cohn too..

                              1. re: pickledtink

                                Why take the caah? There's no paahking neah the spaah.

                                Moving to Boston in my late teens maahed me for life.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  That's retahded; "spa" or "spaah" meaning a convenience store or pizzeria, right? Are there more meanings for spa?

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    I dunno about a spa serving pizza, but it's more than a convenience store. Typically we're talking about a mom & pop operation with a couple of shelves of miscellany, a refrigerator case, and a small deli counter where they make sandwiches to order. Of course, I haven't lived in Boston in 20 years, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      In Rhode Island, a spa would have a box of pizza strips on the counter, but other than that a spa would not serve pizza.

                                      A spa should always have a magazine rack too.

                                      I think the NY equivalent would be a "candy store."

                                    2. re: Scargod

                                      Spa means they have a soda fountain. The original meaning has been lost a bit, and now people will use it to mean just a convenience store, but usually not a chain convenience store, which is called by name - Cumby's or Store Two Four (not twenty-four). A pizzeria will be called a spa only if you order at the counter. Usually the pizza is either a personal pizza or sold by the slice. Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton is one of the best in the Boston area.

                                      1. re: danieljdwyer

                                        Never heard of this use of the word spa until I moved to MA.

                                        1. re: danieljdwyer

                                          Actually, growing up in the 60s-70s, I never heard "spa" used as a generic term. We only used it when it was part of the name, as in "Winthrop Spa" or "Friendly Spa". Our generic term was "corner store", whether or not it was actually located on a corner (though most of them were).

                                          Winthrop Spa (which, come to think of it, we most often called Al's, or Rabbit's, or Bob's, as ownership changed hands) was our actual corner store. Now, it's part of Moulton's restaurant.

                                          1. re: danieljdwyer

                                            Not the spa I worked at after school in Cambridge, MA as a kid in the '50s. Big red refrigerated case full of of cokes (aka tonic) yes, soda fountain no. It's long gone but lives on in my memories as the place where I picked up X-Men #1. Would that I had saved it, I could have retired on its value today.

                                          1. re: phantomdoc

                                            Hey now, thats "pahk"...and thats way to faah to walk :)

                                  2. California = soda

                                    grew up in PA (pop)

                                    Friends don't let friends drink Pepsi

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: laliz

                                      FYI, I'm from central PA and it was soda. Only western PA says "pop". Not that there's anything wrong with that. :)

                                    2. Grew up with soda, traveled around quite a bit back and forth "soda", "pop", lived in Arkansas for 2 years back in the '70's, heard some of the black dudes order "RCcocacola" (I'm not being racist dammit, just noticing local dialect). Lived on eastern Long Island for a few years and helped a guy move to New London(tonic country) and had the worst soft drink in the world, yep Moxie! Ruined one of the best fried clam dinners I ever ate!

                                      1. It was "soft drink" for us. "Soda" and "Pop" were not in our vocabulary.

                                        1. Here's a previous thread on this topic. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611487

                                          Some places it's tonic, tonic water, or soda water....
                                          Missouri is split. I went to University of Missouri-Columbia and we could tell which side of the state an in-state student came from but the word they used. "Soda" folks were from St. Louis, Springfield or somewhere between and those who said "pop" were from KC area or the northwest part of the states.

                                          The book Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau talks about different food terms from various parts of the country.

                                          1. It's "cold drink". At least in the Dallas area, circa 1960-1999.

                                            1. Grew up near SF and had soft drinks. Moved to Seattle in 1977 and started drinking pop.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Erika L

                                                My roots are in SF, so maybe that explains it.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Mine too, but it was always soda among those I've known.

                                              2. "Gaseosa" for the Latino population.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  I guess that some may use that word, but the term I'm more familiar with is "refresco" when speaking Spanish, or "soda" cuando se habla Spanglish.

                                                  1. re: tmso

                                                    In Asunción, Paraguay in the early 80s it was gaseosa or more often ¿Quiere una coca? even if referring to a guaraná.

                                                    1. re: tmso

                                                      Here in Colombia, we use "refresco" more for things like lemonade, although it can include carbonated drinks.

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        I guess the obvious question is then: is it "refresco" or "gaseosa"? Where do people say one, where the other ... and what about "soda" and "coca"?

                                                        1. re: tmso

                                                          "Una soda/agua con gas" is for sparkling/tonic water pretty much everywhere. "Una coca" I've heard only in Peru and Bolivia. "Gaseosa" is pretty much everywhere; "refresco" to a lesser extent. But "refresco" is widespread for sweet, non-carbonated drinks.

                                                      2. re: tmso

                                                        Not Latino but in Spain itself - mostly Valencia - I found soda to be the standard term for American or British style soft drinks. Borrowed terminology for sure, but not Spanglish. Refresco was for drinks like lemonade that aren't pure juice, and lightly carbonated drinks like Orangina.
                                                        In Central America I've heard both gaseosa and, confusingly, aguas.

                                                        1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                          I've heard refresco in Spain as well as in Spanish as spoken in California. I said Spanglish porque se lo llama "soda" instead of "refresco" pretty consistently when speaking in idiomas mezclas. I'm sure it's also a loan word in some Spanish dialects (as it is in French, for example).

                                                          Heck, if refresco means lemonade in some places, then using aguas for soda makes perfect sense, in a wacky sort of way.

                                                    2. fizzy drinks in the UK, neither soda nor pop are used.

                                                      1. In Connecticut and New York (city metro area) it's soda.

                                                        Way back in 1967, I was on a camp trip to Montreal. We were taken to a tablecloth restaurant for dinner. The English speaking waiter asked each of us if we wanted water or soda with our meal. We were quite surprised when we received glasses of seltzer............

                                                        In our lexicon, soda means a flavored carbonated drink. Unflavored is seltzer or club soda.

                                                        1. Almost always "pop" in Canada. "Soda" refers to either club soda, or an ice cream soda.

                                                          But, beer, of course, is known as "wobbly pop". Can't imagine why....

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: FrankDrakman

                                                            Where in Canada is beer known as wobbly pop? New one on me (although cute). SW Ontario pop, Iowa pop, Bay Area soft drink, Taiwan qishui, far northern NY pop, NYC soda. Think of it as soda now, ground down after 20 yrs in NY.

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Where is beer known as "wobbly pop"? In every engineering faculty in southern Ontario. And they sure drank enough of it! Interestingly, once they graduate, most engineers become staid and boring.

                                                              1. re: FrankDrakman

                                                                Haha, I don't think I ever came across "wobbly pop". At my school, it was usually advertised as "BEvERages".

                                                                1. re: mogo

                                                                  BEvERages was used at Mizzou.

                                                                2. re: FrankDrakman

                                                                  Call it anything, just make sure there's at least a 24 in the house. Ex pls.

                                                              2. re: FrankDrakman

                                                                Well I'm Canadian, carbonated sweet beverages were always "soft drinks" growing up in Montreal. I never heard them called "pop" until I moved to Calgary. Although I'd agree "soda" only refers to carbonated water.

                                                                Never heard of wobbly pop (engineers at McGill never called it that), but I can see where it might come from...

                                                                1. re: hsk

                                                                  This has been an eye opener! I thought all Americans use the term soda....as a Canadian who has travelled widely in the US, I have never (not once) heard the term "pop" used there.

                                                                  In Canada, I have heard the term "soft drink" used in place of pop, but never "soda". I have always thought it was a mark of an American (including Americans living in Canada) to use "soda". It is just one of those words the jumps out in ordinary conversation.

                                                                  To complicate matters, the term "soda" can refer to a beer up here (and maybe elsewhere).

                                                                  I never cease being amazed at what people take the time to compile and upload. What on earth would compel someone to compile that rather interesting soda/pop/coke map!?!

                                                                  1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                    An interest in socio-linguistics, an interest in regional differences as to who we are, due to an open and on-going curiosity about phenomena around us, interest in and awareness of other factors associated with the regional differences, and because most of us ARE aware that different people in or from different parts of the US use different terms ("soda", "pop", "soft drinks" "ca cola").

                                                                    You never heard the term "pop" used in the US? Would you have actually realized if someone had used "pop" given your assumption and expectation? Not being mean, sincerely wondering.

                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                      I deal across many cultural spheres in my line of work and tend to be attuned to where I am. I find my own speech changes in each sphere and my expectations change as I move (freely) through them. I am trained to listen for anomolies (as a function of my profession of over 20 yars). When I am in the US, I expect to hear "X". If I hear "Y" it registers. When i am in differnt parts of Canada I have the same inclination.

                                                                      As such if I am in the US and I hear the word "pop" it would, I am certain, resonate. Also, my SO and I are the sort to run to the laptop to see if the pronounciation we just heard on TV is correct and we often challenge each other in that respect. Is it possible I did not hear it, sure; is it likley, no. Fair question though.

                                                                      1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                        In SE Texas it's coke. When I here soda, I think about the Hansons in Slap Shot. "How 'bout a soda?" "None of that stinkin' root beer."

                                                              3. It's not an issue of which is correct. Obviously the term various depending on the geographic location.

                                                                I am not sure what you are asking. Is your question, "what do you call (carbonated, sweetened beverage)"?

                                                                This is a fascinating topic, by the way, because there are several words which go by different names, depending on which part of the U.S. are in.

                                                                1. Michigan is pop, all the way!

                                                                  Faygo even has a flavor called "Redpop", which indeed it is.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                                                    And Barq's rootbeer used to have a red drink called pop rouge, but the clear drink was called cream soda....go figure

                                                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                                                      Faygo!? Wow, I haven't seen or heard this for decades (Canada). Is it still around?

                                                                      1. re: tuttebene

                                                                        Yep, alive and well here in Michigan. Unfortunately for me, I can rarely find any of my favorite flavors in Diet. It's usually just Redpop, Root beer or Orange. I stock up when I find Diet Rock & Rye or Frosh.

                                                                        And CWE is correct, definately pop here!

                                                                    2. Growing up in VA, I always said “Coke”, meaning “I want Coca-Cola”. The general term for me is “soda”. “When we shop, we need to get soda.” (Whichever brand.)

                                                                      I remember once a very young cousin would whine for “pop”, “Gimme pop! Gimme pop!” My father would mutter “I’ll give ya a pop – right in the kisser!” (All in good fun though.)

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cuccubear

                                                                        Are you my long-lost sibling? That was one of my dad's too.

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          He could have been one of the Little Rascals, except he grew up in Queens, NY. He's got a million of them.

                                                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                                                            Brothers from a different mother apparently. My dad his gone, but also had a million. We call them Alphorisms (his name was Alf).

                                                                      2. Grew up in St. Louis area and it was Sodie.....YIKES then moved to Chicago where it is pop

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          It was always "coke" to me in NM (Portales, Las Cruces, Albuquerque). Then we moved to California, where there's only one kind of coke. Confusing for a kid.

                                                                        2. Anybody hear this story on NPR today about Porteños from Argentina calling Pepsi Pecsi for years and Pepsi now specifically marketing to them.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: lgss

                                                                            Its a class thing, but many Colombians call "pizza" "picsa".

                                                                          2. Soda (from Chicago, lived in many places, neither parents from Midwest, if that helps)

                                                                            I knew people who called everything Coke, or pop.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Caralien

                                                                              Pop, Chicago suburbia. I have relatives closer in to the city who say soda. We're all of 20 miles apart. ???

                                                                            2. Growing up outside of Boston, we used this heirarchy of terms:

                                                                              "Cold drink" was the most generic. Could be used for juice, non-carbonated flavored drinks (anybody remember Za-Rex?), or...

                                                                              "Tonic", used for any and all carbonated soft drinks. Frequently combined with its container to produce a word that sounds like an unfortunate health condition, as in: "I'm getting a cannatonic, want anythiing from the fridge?"

                                                                              "Soda". Only used for specific flavors. Grape soda. Orange soda. Cream soda.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: brandywiner

                                                                                Currently live outside Boston and just this week a client was telling me that "tonic" (among other things) was served at a picnic and a few minutes later I saw an ice cream truck with tonic listed on the side among the other products available.

                                                                                1. re: lgss

                                                                                  The use of the word "tonic" is not uncommon in this area...my grandmother, who grew up in Cambridge and later settled on the South Shore, used this term exclusively to describe any kind of soda (Coke, Sprite, and her favorite, Ginger ale). She passed last year...I might start using "tonic" again, in her memory :)

                                                                              2. Here's an interesting tidbit about the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for coke.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: lgss

                                                                                  I took an ASL class in high school, and our instructor's more benign version of the first explanation was that it gives you a "shot" of energy, thanks to the caffeine.

                                                                                2. In NYC (The Bronx, Manhattan, wherever) and in Northern NJ, it's soda, unless:
                                                                                  Coke™ is always Coke, Pepsi™ is always Pepsi, Root Beer is (Brand)+Root Beer. the other flavors not so much: Orange Soda, Cream Soda, Grape (ugh) Soda.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                    >>"Grape (ugh) Soda."<<

                                                                                    Wow. Flashback. Grape Nehi. Circa 1975. Do they make that any more?

                                                                                      1. re: lgss

                                                                                        Very cool. Kind of strange seeing it in a plastic bottle with an updated label, though.

                                                                                  2. Over the weekend, I was watching an old tape of "The March of Time" newsreels, focusing on "American Youth" from 1940 to 1950. At one point the narrator made reference to the teenage fad of hanging out at a drug store or malt shop where they enjoy "Coke, soda, or pop".

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                      Fascinating. I have a problem with the posts that don't have a time frame for their area. I think the coloquialisms in this thread changed fairly rapidly.
                                                                                      Thus, is is frustrating to me that few recognize or used the term "cold drink" which was prevalent for me, in North Dallas, TX, from 1950's through 1970's. I think "a coke" came later.
                                                                                      Perhaps it was the (slightly), more affluent crowd I schooled with?

                                                                                    2. Western NY, pop; eastern and downstate NY, soda; in the South, coke (as in "what kind of coke would you like?" (And now I see another post giving almost verbatim the same question as an example.) My main point of reference in the South is Alabama, but that's not the only place you hear it. Once you do, you understand what's meant.
                                                                                      Being from western NY and having a grandmother in AL, I drove up and down the eastern seaboard with my parents a lot during the 60s and 70s, and the regional differences were (and are) fascinating to me. This thread has just introduced me to the term "spa," for a kind of store. I've been to Boston, but I guess I've never been in the kind of situation where someone would refer to a "spa," because if they had, I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what they meant.

                                                                                      Interestingly, in western NY, at least, a "soda" is a confection consisting of ice cream and POP. I'll never forget one time when I was in college (University of Alabama, roll Tide!) ordering an orange soda and getting just plain old orange pop. I didn't expect that result because I well knew that I hadn't ordered an orange coke. I think where I went wrong was not adding the words "ice cream" before soda. Or maybe it would have been called an orange float. Don't know!

                                                                                      The Dictionary of American Regional English is all about regional usages. Including maps!