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Monday, August 18, 2008

We’re Firmly in “Pop” Country

posted by on August 18 at 14:54 PM


Strange Maps has a map of the United States divided up by the name people commonly use as a generic term for soda.

I was born in soda country, but Seattle’s definitely pop-centric. Alaska has counties in all three camps, including the Southern tendency to refer to any soda as coke. When I lived in Colorado, I got used to people calling soda “pop,” but I never, ever got used to people who call lollipops “suckers” or bags “sacks.” Those two are just wrong.

RSS icon Comments


I say "soda pop", but I'm rather affected.

Posted by it'smarkmitchell | August 18, 2008 3:05 PM

Alaska does not have Counties: we have Boroughs.

Posted by AK Rob | August 18, 2008 3:08 PM

You're not going to open up that whole "sub", "hoagie", "grinder" thing are you?

Posted by John Bailo | August 18, 2008 3:08 PM

I'm an native PNW'er, and I've always refered to carbonated beverages as either "soda pop" or "soda", but never just "pop".

Posted by COMTE | August 18, 2008 3:09 PM

Soda for me.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 18, 2008 3:10 PM

When I was really young I said "pop". But then we started visiting my relatives in L.A. every summer, and so I picked up "soda" from them, and that stuck to this day.

Posted by Hernandez | August 18, 2008 3:15 PM

I'm a Seattle native, and I grew up saying "pop." But most of the people I talk to on a daily basis these days are transplants, so I've switched to saying "soda" just because it's easier than translating.

Posted by Cascadian | August 18, 2008 3:16 PM

I grew up calling it "pop," but now that I have a fancy degree I call it "soda."

But you really have to wonder about the people who call it "other."

Posted by boxofbirds | August 18, 2008 3:16 PM

I grew up in Indiana, where my friends said "pop," with a mother from West Virginia who said "coke" even though she drank primarily Pepsi products. She used to say to my visiting friends, "If you want a coke, there's some Pepsi in the fridge."

In college, I roomed with a girl from Minnesota who said "soda" with that long Minnesota "O". I picked that up habit, and have stuck with it since moving to Seattle nine years ago. Now I'm the oddball who says it wrong.

Posted by Chris | August 18, 2008 3:17 PM

I grew up in one of those red counties in central Indiana where people say coke, though I grew up just calling it a soft drink. You can sort of tell that Indiana's the Middle Finger of the South. Additionally, FYI, a lot of folks in central Indiana are descended from Kentuckians who came up to work in the auto industry plants usually based in county seats. Neato.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | August 18, 2008 3:19 PM

Ha! Excellent explanation of my family's usage. Not only did I grow up in SoCal where "soda" is used anyway, but my parents were both from Jersey which is even more soda-centric. Good to know!

Posted by leek | August 18, 2008 3:19 PM

it's "sodie pop"

and with the advent of 24/7 access to the media, is this even very valid anymore?

Posted by michael strangeways | August 18, 2008 3:25 PM

Mine's a Scotch and soda, thanks.

Posted by Fnarf | August 18, 2008 3:29 PM

i always thought upper michigan was the only place on earth where people call it pop. say "pop" anywhere else and you will be ridiculed for being from a backwoods shithole where people don't have electricity and talk like canadians. eventually your will is broken and you submit to a life of referring to carbonated beverages as "soda". or so i have read.

Posted by brandon | August 18, 2008 3:29 PM

I never hear anyone say "pop." I always hated that term anyways.

Posted by Jason Josephes | August 18, 2008 3:31 PM

Will including my generic name for soft drinks on my personals ad will make me more interesting? Or less? I'm guessing a lot less. Right up there with "I don't even own a TV."

Posted by elenchos | August 18, 2008 3:32 PM

I say 'soda'. It was an act of defiance when I moved to Denver from Washington, DC- I may have been stuck there, but damned if I was going to use their words.

My mom finds the Coloradan use of the word "sack" hilarious, even after ten years.

Posted by Abby | August 18, 2008 3:33 PM

The real battle is "bubbler" vs. "drinking fountain". I'm partial to bubbler, mind you.

Posted by heywhatsit | August 18, 2008 3:34 PM

I'm from Colorado, and I have only ever said soda. I don't know too many people who say pop, so I'm wondering where in CO you lived in, Paul...

I do hear "sucker" every so often though, and I die a little inside every time.

Posted by JBax | August 18, 2008 3:36 PM

I grew up in the wilds of Eastern Washington saying pop, sucker AND sack. Shameful. I think it was comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer who had some shtick about moving to the Midwest and wanting to die every time she was asked "Do you want a sack for your pop?" when she'd buy a soda at a convenience store.

Posted by rb | August 18, 2008 3:46 PM

I'm also from soda-land, although the hard-core townies in my hometown said "tonic," which I guess is just another "other."

Posted by Levislade | August 18, 2008 3:47 PM

I used to HATE the texans that would come into my ice cream shop (high school job) and order a "coke". Then you hand them a coke, and they scream at you "I wanted a Dr. Pepper!" This scene best envisioned with an obnoxious Texas accent. Yup, in Colorado we all said pop. My cousins in Wisconsin - Soda.

Posted by scharrera | August 18, 2008 3:53 PM

I grew up in NY saying "soda" only. Then I lived for a while in Boston where they say "tonic" and I never got used to it. Server: What would you like to drink? Customer: I'll have a tonic. Server: What kind? We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, root beer, orange. I never heard "pop" until I moved to Seattle.

Posted by blue barberpole | August 18, 2008 3:55 PM

When I was a kid I said "soda" or "pop." Now I say "iced cold beverage" thanks to my college education.

Posted by elswinger | August 18, 2008 4:03 PM

We worship an awesome pop in the red counties, and we don't like federal agents poking around our cokes in the blue counties.

Surely Obama shall bring us together in Unity, but ... what about "the others"??? What are the fuck are drinking out there, Qaeda Cola?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 18, 2008 4:03 PM

this map will never die, will it?

Posted by josh | August 18, 2008 4:07 PM

coke is the word

Posted by Catman | August 18, 2008 4:20 PM

Grew up in the Northwest, but my folks are from MI and OH, so it was always pop as a kid. The grocery store isles always had it labeled as such as well.

#13 - Never had you pegged for someone who'd put soda in their Scotch. I thought water was the only "correct" additional ingredient? (trust me, I don't believe it matters, but to those that do...)

Posted by Dougsf | August 18, 2008 4:28 PM

Alaska is mostly made up of immigrants from other states who come for the jobs. A ton of people seem to be either from Montana, Arizona, or Texas.

Posted by Phoebe | August 18, 2008 4:29 PM

Growing up in Puget Sound, I've heard both 'soda' and 'pop' used frequently by other locals. I stick with 'soda' because I think it sounds better.

Posted by Greg | August 18, 2008 4:32 PM

I grew up in "tonic" land, but last time I was back in the 'hood, I found they don't say it anymore. Another regionalism bulldozed by TV, I guess. Like "sodypop". My SoCal grandfather used to do this carnival barker immitation, "Peacorn, popnuts, and sodygum! Ask yer mother for fifty cents to see the elephant kiss his ask your mother for fifty cents!" When I was eight and he was sixty, we both thought it was pretty hilarious. OK, I still think it's pretty funny, if done with appropriately W.C. Fieldsesque rhythms.

Posted by Eric in Boulder | August 18, 2008 4:35 PM

Grew up saying pop (and I'm from northern MN), but now say soda because the pop has been verbally beaten out of me.

The bigger question is: Casserole, hot dish or goulash?

Posted by dod | August 18, 2008 4:40 PM

Coke is a brand. At best you can say it refers to a "cola" beverage. But "soda" or "pop" refers to all sweetened carbonated beverages.

Posted by elswinger | August 18, 2008 4:41 PM

I got "pop" from both my father (Portland area) and my mother (Spokane), but then I went to Virginia for college and people literally couldn't understand me, so I switched to soda or soda pop. I say "coke" with a trace of a Virginia accent now, but people didn't use it for all sodas.

I never realized until today that sack and sucker were not universal. What do you mean, you don't say sack? Jesus said sack, according to the OED:

[OE. sacc masc., ad. L. sacc-us bag, sack, sackcloth (F. sac, from 11-12th c., Pr. sac, Sp., Pg. saco, It. sacco), a. Gr. {sigma}{gaacu}{kappa}{kappa}{omicron}{fsigma}, ad. Heb. (?Ph{oe}nician) saq = Jewish Aramaic saq, saqq{amac}, Syriac saq, saqå, Assyrian saqqu. The word appears in most of the Teut. langs.: Goth. sakkus sackcloth is prob. from Greek, but in the other langs. the proximate source is Latin: MDu. sak (Du. zak), OHG. sac, sach, acc. pl. secchi (MHG. sac, mod.G. sack bag), ON. sekk-r sack (Sw. säkk, Da. sæk). The ON. and some of the OHG. forms, and perh. the OE. sæcc (confined to the sense ‘sackcloth’) indicate a prehistoric type *sakki-z: cf. med.L. ‘saccia, {sigma}{gaacu}{kappa}{kappa}{omicron}{fsigma}’ in a Lat.-Gr. glossary. The word is found also as Irish and Gael. sac, Welsh sach, Hungarian zsak, Russian sak', Polish, Czech, Serbian, Albanian sak, which are all directly or indirectly from the Latin or Greek.]
Posted by annie | August 18, 2008 4:43 PM

Okay, I grew up with 'pop' and 'bag' in NE OH, but my grandparents were from Shenendoah County, Va, so that explains it. What I've never been to etymologize is their phrase for clearing the table of dishes after a meal---'rid up the table'. Anybody got a clue

Posted by amazonmidwife | August 18, 2008 4:43 PM

Minnesota is "pop" and "sucker" territory. I've heard "sack" used to describe bags, but "bag" around here is pronounced almost the same as "beg."

I was rather taken aback to hear rubber bands described as "binders."

Posted by MidwayPete | August 18, 2008 4:43 PM


Posted by amazonmidwife | August 18, 2008 4:46 PM

I'm from Texas, where if you wanted a soft drink, you ordered a Coke.

When they asked what kind, then you named your brand/flavor.

For example:

Kid: I'd like a Coke.
Watiress: What kind?
Kid: Sprite.

Texas is stupid. I wonder how much Coke paid the state.

Posted by David Schmader | August 18, 2008 4:48 PM

I agree with the perspective that Coke is a brand, but so is Kleenex & Q-Tip. I rarely say tissue or cotton swab, but that doesn't mean that I'll start to call soda "Coke".

@36. Suckers - yep. I still stay beg instead of bag or begel instead of bagel. I can't break myself of that one.

I used to work with a guy from Boston who asked me to hand him a "rubber" in reference to an eraser. That was a new one for me.

Posted by Dod | August 18, 2008 5:00 PM

I grew up in Colorado, definitely "pop" in Denver where I lived. I was born in Texas so when we visited relatives there it was "coke" or "soda pop."

What the heck is wrong with "sack?"

Posted by PopTart | August 18, 2008 5:09 PM

I grew up saying "pop" (Near Detroit was a soda chain called "The Pop Shoppe") but my inner-city peers called it soda, so I got used to hearing it.

A co-worker from eastern Kentucky called it "dope."

'rid up the table'

Probably "redd". From
r.v. Chiefly Pennsylvania., redd·ed or redd, redd·ing, redds.

To clear: redd the dinner table.
phrasal verb:

redd up

1. To tidy: redded up the front room.

[Middle English dialectal redden, to clear an area (influenced by Middle English redden, to rescue, free from), from Old Norse rydhja. See rid.]

REGIONAL NOTE The terms redd and redd up came to the American Midlands from the many Scottish immigrants who settled there. Meaning “to clear an area or to make it tidy,” redd is still used in Scotland and Northern Ireland; in the United States it is especially common in Pennsylvania as the phrasal verb redd up. The term, which goes back to Old Norse rydhja, can be traced from the 15th century to the present, particularly in dialects of Scotland and the North of England.

Posted by shell or boomba? | August 18, 2008 5:43 PM

Thanks, sob. That makes so much sense, because that was how my grandma pronounced it, but I just attributed it to her accent and mentally adjusted it to 'rid'. The ethnicity was spot on as well, though they skipped through PA to get to OH.

Posted by amazonmidwife | August 18, 2008 6:26 PM

I come from "pop" country in the Midwest. Thinking when I was younger that this was a purely Midwestern thing (and desperate to shed any and all things which might identify me as a Midwesterner) I worked hard to stop saying "pop" and affected the "soda" instead. So I still say soda now, although occasionally a pop slips out.

Posted by Mary T | August 18, 2008 6:59 PM

MidwayPete, I'd say that in Minnesota, "bag" is pronounced like "bake" with a G (at least some people do). I grew up saying "pop" but eventually migrated to "soda" for the drink. I still say "pop machine" and "pop cans" though.

Posted by Andy | August 18, 2008 7:21 PM

I grew up around here, but my parents grew up in Hawaii, where they pronounce it as soodahh. I am accustomed to soda pop, just like Mark Mitchell.

Posted by Deacon Seattle | August 18, 2008 7:36 PM

I say pop.
But here's something that drives me nuts: A colleague who pronounces all the days of the week correctly until she gets to "Fri-dee." Who does that?

Posted by Poppy | August 18, 2008 8:21 PM

Tonic is a New England term. I was baffled when I first moved to the Boston area thinking tonic was a sparkling water served with gin.

Canada wasn't included on the map, but central Ontario is Soda-land. My brother and I at about age 10 nearly peed ourselves laughing when we heard our Michigan cousins use the term pop, which we used as a synonym for fart.

Posted by RainMan | August 18, 2008 8:29 PM

One more thing: "Sucker" for lollipop? What if the writers of The Wizard of Oz had those Munchkins singing "We represent the Sucker Guild..."?

Posted by RainMan | August 18, 2008 8:34 PM

I grew up in Illinois, where you get a drink from a "water fountain." But just 17 miles north in Wisconsin, you get a drink from the "bubbler." Now that's just foolishness.

Posted by Lisa | August 18, 2008 9:36 PM

First time I heard 'What kinda coke you like? We got Sprite, root beer, Pepsi...' was in Baton Rouge. Been in MN for 20+ yrs now, and I still don't get the whole WI binder/bubbler thing. I've never heard that anywhere else.

Posted by drewl | August 18, 2008 10:21 PM

coke. sack. lollipop. My people have been in Seattle since 1900, but they're originally from Kentucky, so I guess some things just stick.

Posted by kk | August 19, 2008 12:02 AM

I grew up in pop country, but now I say soda. I must have picked that up when the fam moved to Oregon. Even when I moved back to pop country I still said soda.
I guess I say bag wrong. It's never been a sack either. And suckers were a variety of lollipops. The DumDum suckers. Lollipops were the big hard candy round or tube like jobs.

Posted by Sha | August 19, 2008 2:08 AM

Being Alaskan I remember saying pop and soda interchangably, but finding it weird when people couldn't fluctuate from one to the other. The thing that freaked me out was going to the South and having Coke be interchangable with soda. It's not a Kleenex, it's a flavor!!!

Posted by Tom C. | August 19, 2008 9:13 AM

My mom called it sodie, but in the can-of-caffeine-free-diet-coke sense. As in, "Would you get me a sodie out of the fridge?"

Posted by chuchu | August 19, 2008 10:43 AM

Having grown up in Pittsburgh, PA, it was 'pop' and 'sucker' (hey, at least they said 'bag' instead of 'sack'. Hadn't heard that term before moving here.)

They also used 'redd up', along with 'nebby' (which everyone else on the planet calls 'nosy') and 'wush' or 'warsh' for 'wash'. Ah, Shitsburgh- how I do not miss thee.

Posted by Pop a sack right in your sucker | August 19, 2008 3:32 PM

I too was a CO native until 6 months ago. Lived all over CO, mostly Denver.

I always called it pop.

Until I got made fun of my a Cali friend who said they all called it "soda pop" or just "soda".

An ex-bf from Arkansas said it was always "coke", no matter what the brand.

Now I just say fuck it and order a beer.

Posted by Lisa | August 19, 2008 5:03 PM

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