‘Soda,’ ‘pop,’ or ‘coke’: More than 400,000 Americans weighed in, and a map of their answers is exactly what you’d expect
- Americans have different words for soft drink depending on which region of the United States they’re from.
- The three most popular terms are soda, pop, and coke, according to data collected by the site Pop Vs. Soda.
- Linguists have noted other terms people from certain regions use for soft drinks, including tonic and cocola.
People in the United States have different ways of saying things from region to region, from what they call the night before Halloween to how they pronounce the word “crayon.”
One of the things Americans can never seem to agree on is what to call fizzy, carbonated beverages: soda, pop, or coke?
That’s exactly the question cartographer Alan McConchie sought to answer with his web project, the aptly named Pop Vs. Soda. The site invites visitors to fill out a brief questionnaire asking where they are from and which term they use for soft drinks. To date, more than 400,000 users have submitted answers.
The resulting maps illustrate what linguists have long known:
- Soda is the preferred term in the Northeast, most of Florida, California, and pockets in the Midwest around Milwaukee and St. Louis
- Pop is what people say in most of the Midwest and West
- And coke, even if it’s not Coca-Cola brand, is what people call it in the South
Previous research reveals even more regional divides. According to Jason Katz, the graphic artist who wrote “Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk,” there are even more regionalisms that most Americans may not have heard of. Among them:
- A solid 6% of Americans simply call them soft drinks, especially in Louisiana and North Carolina
- In small pockets of the Deep South, cocola is the preferred term
- And in Boston, tonic is what a decent amount of older residents grew up saying, although that term is quickly falling out of favor
Whether you call it pop, soda, coke, or something else entirely, there’s no question that Americans won’t be agreeing on its name any time soon.