Monday, May 12, 2008

A Soda Guy Living on the Pop/Coke Line

One of the most persistent differences in regional terminology is what we call soft drinks. I am a native of eastern Pennsylvania, which is deep in "soda" country. Central Kentucky, though, is where the midwestern "pop" meets the southern "Coke" (as a generic name).

The map is amazing.

I am particularly curious about the St. Louis Soda Circle. Any ideas?


D-rew said...

What's in the 'other' category me wonders...fizzy drink? carbonated beverage? water?

Anonymous said...

gruntled... note that there is a semicircle in wisconsin similar to the st louis one. Both areas are heavily german aren't they?

d-rew... in my neck of the woods down south it was "cold drink"

and a variation of coke would be co-cola. I have also heard reference to RoC co-cola for RC.

Tausign said...

Do the 30-50% blocks indicate that these people are confused about what they drink?

Gruntled said...

One "other" that I heard about is "tonic" (and its counterpart, "diet tonic") in Massachusetts.

I like the German theory for soda, but I would feel better about it if we saw it in Cincinati, too.

I think the 30-50% counties have strong blocs of several names, with only the largest minority showing.

D-rew said...

Cold drink implies something other than coke (what i say, after all I'm from its birthplace) if you catch my meanin'.

Gruntled said...

Which reminds me that the South African expression for soft drink is "cool drink."

Mac said...

I am surprised. Maybe things have changed since I was a boy (50s and early 60s), but we always used "coke" genberically, as in "Want a coke?"


"What kind?"


That was true in Madison County Illinois (just across the River from St. Louis)which is shown as a solid "soda" county, and in Gentry County Missouri ("Missouruh", not "Missouree") which is shown as a solid "pop" county.

Sadly, we are losing that which made us unique.

Ibn Centre said...

I'm presently a student in Saint Louis, although I grew up in firm "Coke" country.

My friends and I would like to propose that some of the "soda" bubble in Saint Louis might be due to the large numbers of students and professionals from the northeast who come to Saint Louis for education and employment and tend to continue to use "pop."

In addition, given the Midwestern "rivalry" between Chicago and Saint Louis, it might be possible that Saint Louisians (sp?) have made the decision, conscious or otherwise, to differentiate from Chicagoans.

This, however, does not offer any sort of insight onto socioeconomic or racial categories.

ibn centre said...

Also, and sorry to crowd (just had this idea), but we might want to consider both the format of the poll and who had access to it.

If the poll was online, and in Saint Louis, then those taking the poll will most likely be professionals and students with access to the internet. If those professionals and students are transplants--that might also indicate the "bubble."

rbush said...

The St. Louis question mystifies me, so I've been mulling it over. Personally, I was raised in the pop half of Kentucky, but I now attend graduate school in St. Louis and am soon to be married to a St. Louisan.

I don't agree with ibn centre's hypothesis that St. Louis "soda" usage is dictated by the transient student/young professional population. Most of us are confined to St. Louis proper, and the map shows a pretty large circle of "soda" emanating out from St. Louis. Furthermore, for every "soda" person who moves here, I'm sure there's a "pop" or "coke" user such as myself.

So the question I've been pondering is...what does St. Louis have in common with Milwaukee (another soda bubble) that it doesn't have in common with other German areas such as Cincinnati? My answer (and yes, this is a stretch), is the Lutheran Church.

Two of the US's largest Lutheran populations reside in these two areas. In fact, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (2nd largest Lutheran denom in the US) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (3rd largest Lutheran denom in the US) are based squarely in these two soda circles. The other Midwestern German populations are either more heavily Catholic (Cincy) or far more transient and diverse (Chi-town).

Anyway, that's my incredibly far-fetched theory.... the Lutheran Soda Conspiracy.