Do you drink soda, pop, or coke?

I recently had occasion to read the Wikipedia entry for colloquialism. The entry itself was brief but included an illustration I’d never seen before, a U.S. map showing the use of the synonyms coke, soda, and pop across the country:

(click to enlarge)
(click map to enlarge)

I grew up in Oklahoma City and pop was our word of choice. When we said Coke, we meant an actual Coca Cola. I still can’t imagine saying “coke” if you mean anything other than a real Coke.

When I moved to upstate New York for a few years, I was very conscious of everyone’s use of the word soda and adapted, just to fit in. When I moved back to Oklahoma and then to Colorado, I retained soda to a large degree, perhaps because it seemed more dignified than pop. Of course, the origin of both terms was soda pop, which I used at one time or another, along with soft drink.

So, is the map accurate for you and where you live? We’re such a mobile society, it’s amazing to me that any of these regionalisms survive. If you live in one of those areas marked “other,” what term do you use?

Wikipedia has another entry on “names for soft drinks” which details terms used all over the world, in addition to names and usages in the U.S. (note the “others” category on the map.)

Now I’d like to see a map on hoagie, gyro, hero, submarine, and poor boy.

10 thoughts on “Do you drink soda, pop, or coke?

  1. Yes, this is pretty accurate! I currently live in Hamilton County, Ohio, and here, it’s “pop” for everything, but just over the Mason-Dixon line, it switches very quickly (within 30 miles) to “coke.” When I lived in Minot, ND, it was also “pop” but in El Paso County, CO (Colorado Springs), it could be anything – “soda” is not accurate for there, more accurate for Denver Metro, as Colorado Springs is a military town (USAF and Army) and people there are from everywhere, so you hear it all. I worked in a military package beverage store in Colorado Springs and can verify that. Check out Alpha Dictionary’s site – there’s a great test about regional colloquialisms called “Are you a Yankee or are you Dixie?”
    I hadn’t thought about military bases. That might explain those odd counties that are so conspicuously different from the surrounding area, just like El Paso County. I’ve been really curious about those.

    I’ll be checking out that Alpha Dictionary test. Betcha anything I’m hopelessly Dixie.

    (Not totally hopeless, it turns out out. My score was “74% Dixie. Your neck must be a just little rosy!” Very interesting, reading all the answers. Then I moved on to the advanced test and scored “31% Dixie. You are definitely a Yankee.” Thanks for the tip, Joana. I’ve really enjoyed poking around at this website.)

  2. P.S. “Hoagie” is retained here in greater Cincinnati, although this is supposedly Pittsburghese that came down the river (like everything else in that place).

  3. Cool map! Do you think there’s also a generational/age component to usage. Growing up we kids avoided using “pop” as it was “hick” or farmer term. ( but our parents/ uncles that did grow up on farms – and rarely could afford those drinks – called them pop or the longer term soda pop). Usually I just said Dr. Pepper.
    We use all those sandwich terms around here – usually each one is made slightly different – and it depends where you are eating. But this is a pretty crazy quilt of people here.

    1. It seems logical that kids would initially adopt what they hear adults say. But then, kids being kids, they might decide deliberately to “rebel” and say something different. Or invent something totally new. Anything to set themselves apart and annoy the adults!

      With the sandwich terms, I’ve pretty much always said “sub.” If I have to say something different to place an order, I will. But I grew up with “sub,” which was reinforced with the advent of SubStop and Subway sandwich shops.

... and that's my two cents