Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Pop, Soda or Coke?

What is your favourite name for a carbonated beverage?

Pop, Soda or Coke?


When on a hot summer’s day you buy a carbonated beverage to quench your thirst, how do you order it? Do you ask for a soda, a pop or something else? That question lay at the basis of an article in the Journal of English Linguistics (Soda or Pop?, #24, 1996) and of a map, showing the regional variation in American English of the names given to that type of drink.

The article was written by Luanne von Schneidemesser, PhD in German linguistics and philology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and senior editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English.  And although there might be weightier issues in life (or even in linguistics) than the preferred terminology for a can of soft drink, there’s nothing trivial about this part of the beverage industry.

“According to an article last year in the Isthmus, Madison’s weekly newspaper, Americans drink so much of the carbonated beverages sold under such brand names as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, Mountain Dew, and 7-Up that consumption averages 43 gallons per year for every man, woman, and child in the United States,” Von Schneidemesser begins her article. “The Statistical Abstract of the United States (1994) confirms this: 44.1 gallons per person in 1992, compared to the next most consumed beverages: beer (32.7 gallons), coffee (27.8 gallons), and milk (25.3 gallons).”

It must be that ubiquity of soft drinks that has made this pop vs soda map the single-most submitted map to this blog, sent in by over 100 contributors. The map details the areas where certain usages predominate.

  • coke: this generic term for soft drinks predominates throughout the South, has a strong presence in New Mexico and some purchase in Indiana. It also dominates single counties throughout some of the western states, like Colorado and Nebraska. ‘Coke’ obviously derives from Coca-Cola, the brand-name of the soft drink originally manufactured in Atlanta (which probably explains its use as a generic term for all soft drinks in the South).
  • pop: dominates the Northwest, the Great Plains and the Midwest, all the way up to western upstate New York and West Virginia. The word ‘pop’ was introduced by Robert Southey, the British Poet Laureate (1774-1843), to whom we also owe the word ‘autobiography’, among others. In 1812, he wrote: A new manufactory of a nectar, between soda-water and ginger-beer, and called pop, because ‘pop goes the cork’ when it is drawn. Despite its poetic pedigree, some consider ‘pop’ somewhat unsophisticated, because it is onomatopaeic.soda: prevalent in the Northeast, greater Miami, the area in Missouri and Illinois surrounding St Louis and California, Nevada and Arizona - as well as Hawaii. 
  • Soda derives from ‘soda-water’ (also called club soda, carbonated or sparkling water or seltzer). It’s produced by dissolving carbon dioxide gas in plain water, a procedure developed by Joseph Priestly in the latter half of the 18th century. The fizziness of soda-water caused the term ‘soda’ to be associated with later, similarly carbonated soft drinks.
  • 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.
  • This map was found at the popvssoda website, dedicated to gathering info on the usage of pop, soda, coke and other variant terms throughout the US.

    Strange Maps #308 

    Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

    Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

    Ready to see the future? Nanotronics CEO Matthew Putman talks innovation and the solutions that are right under our noses.

    Big Think LIVE

    Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

    Keep reading Show less

    Dark Forest theory: A terrifying explanation of why we haven’t heard from aliens yet

    The Fermi paradox asks us where all the aliens are if the cosmos should be filled with them. The Dark Forest theory says we should pray we never find them.

    If this theory is correct, the day after contact would look like this. (Pixababy)
    Surprising Science

    The Milky Way galaxy has 200 billion stars and perhaps 100 billion planets. If even a small fraction of those planets harbored life, and even if only a pathetic scattering of those planets had lifeforms which became intelligent, our galaxy would be teeming with alien civilizations, some of whom would be either looking for us or discoverable for at least a little while.

    Keep reading Show less

    Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

    President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced coronavirus vaccine at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

    Credit: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
    Coronavirus
  • Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Russia.
  • Scientists around the world are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and that Russia fast-tracked the vaccine without performing the necessary phase 3 trials.
  • To date, Russia has had nearly 900,000 registered cases of coronavirus.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Therapy app Talkspace mined user data for marketing insights, former employees allege

    A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.

    Talkspace.com
    Technology & Innovation
    • In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
    • Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
    • It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
    Keep reading Show less
    Mind & Brain

    Viewing abstract art causes notable cognitive changes

    Viewing art that doesn't look like anything makes your brain take extra steps to try and get it.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast