The following was taken from the website eightoverfive, and is “a nonscientific investigation into the relationship of sweet tea availability and the separation of northern and southern cultures in the United States.”
“An interesting phenomenon exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The northern and urban areas of the state do not generally offer sweet tea in restaurants, whereas it is a staple beverage in the southern part of the state. Many clear present-day distinctions exist between the cultures of the north and south, but could the availability of Sweet Tea be a quantitative example?”
This map shows the results of a survey of over 300 McDonald’s restaurants in Virginia as to the availability of sweet tea in their premises. The result is a dividing line between northern and southern culture quite distinct from other, more commonly used dividing lines, such as the Mason-Dixon Line and the border between the Union and Confederate states during the Civil War.
That line was established by calculating a median line between the southern range of non-sweet tea and the northern range of sweet tea (both of which become much clearer by ticking the relevant boxes on the website).
Sweet tea is not available in the northernmost parts of Virginia, while non-sweet tea is available quite far south in the state. The resulting line of best fit dissects Virginia in roughly equal northern and southern halves, implying that ‘northern’ (i.e. non-sweet tea drinking) culture penetrates far more south than previous demarcations suggest.
Thanks to Sean Holihan for pointing out this cool experiment. Go visit the relevant page here.