Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Illinois’ Great Divide: Soda or Pop

I see someone has actually mapped out the geographic differences between how people refer to soft drinks. (Click here to see larger map)

We live on the edge of the St. Louis centered Soda island. To our north and east in our state lies the land of Pop. I noticed this difference in terms while living in northwest Illinois, but I must admit it never occurred to me while living in Chicago. And how odd is it soft drinks are just called “Cokes” in the Deep South and Texas? During what little time I’ve spent there I guess I assumed anyone referring to a coke probably meant a Coca-Cola.


nancy said...

In college I went to school with a kid from Boston who referred to all "sody" (HATE that one!)as "tonic". Not sure if it's a regional New England thing or just Beantown.

Dave said...


"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."


JeromeProphet said...

Coca Cola being a product of, and originally distributed to the South at just the right time certainly made an impact didn't it?

You don't see any regions saying Pepsi.

I recall using the terms "Soda" which I still use mainly.

I'll rarely use the word "Pop", but usually when I'm in a lighter funner kind of mood.

Give me a pop will you?

Which usually results in a confused moment for the person I just asked.

Try it at the local drive through for fun.

I also grew up saying, "Give me a Coke".

But as things tend to get complicated, with all the variations of Coke, and as Pepsi made inroads you'll either end up being asked what kind of Coke, or you'll get the "We have Pepsi" response.

Which broke me of my "Coke" habit.


JLo said...

I am more likely to say soda or to just call the beverage by its Christian name. I can't stand pop, sody, sody-pop, soda. I like that in the south they call all things "Coke," but I am not in the south or from the south. In other words, I know what I hate, but I am not sure what I like.

Bookworm said...

I suspect (just my own personal hunch) that "soda" is a term that gained favor among people of Irish or German ancestry, while "pop" was the favored term among Eastern and Southern Europeans.

Note that the hotbeds of "soda" are St. Louis, Milwaukee and New England. The first two are very German and New England is, of course, very Irish.

Of course, that doesn't quite explain why "soda" is the term of choice in California and the Southwest -- maybe Hispanics outside of Texas and the South (where "Coke" is still king) have adopted it?

Note also the little strip of soda-favoring counties along the Illinois River (from Peoria to Bureau counties). Not sure where that came from.

I grew up in La Salle County, right on the I-80 cultural dividing line between Chicago and downstate. True to form, my family always used the term "soda pop."