The Electric Commentary

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Soda v. Pop

It's about time! Eric Rasmusen points to a linguistic map of the United States. As everyone from Southeastern Wisconsin knows, "soda" is the correct term. Much of the country is, unfortunately, wrong. Especially those of you who say "Coke" for all carbonated beverages. Seriously, what kind of a place allows "Pepsi" to be "Coke?" Or Orange Crush? If you ask someone for a Coke, do they ask you "what flavor?" What if you say Coke? Will they just be confused and ask again?

And don't get me started on Minnesotans with their "grey ducks." Just a bunch of duck racists if you ask me.

(Note: And don't bother pointing out that we Wisconsinites refer to"drinking fountains" as "bubblers." I freely admit that this is incorrect with one exception. Chicago actually has "bubblers" installed all along the lake front. The difference, by the way, is that drinking fountains force water out of a spigot, fountain style, while bubblers use a small, steady release of air, causing the water to bubble up.)

(Hat tip, Marginal Revolution)

Update: Our friend Mitchell e-mails:

I have been told by numerous people that the term "bubbler" became a Wisconsin term because a Wisconsin company that made water fountains was named Bubbler. Whether that's true, I don't know, but the people that have told me seemed quite convinced that they were around in their younger days.

I have also been told that certain areas of New York City use the term bubbler, and last time I was in New York I actually heard it used, although it's possible that I just overheard another tourist from Wisconsin.

Update 2: Check out this site, and notice the cow drinking out of the bubbler.


  • Being from Tennessee, I'm well aware of the Coke thing. However, to me, it's always been a general term. No one really asks for a Coke hoping to get Mello-Yello. When it's necessary to be clear, we'll be specific--although there's not a chance in hell a real Southerner is going to call it soda--and I imagine that the word "soda" is not used in specifics either--you obviously can't get a Pepsi from requesting simply, "Soda, please."

    If anyone goes to the store, and they ask you what you want, you might say, "Yeah, I'd like a Coke," and the answer that comes back is inevitably, "Just a Coke?" and the reply might be, "Yeah, uh, get me a 20 ounce Sprite."

    It's that Southern thing, Coke is from Atlanta, and by gar we's not caterin' to city folk words.

    By Blogger Chris, at 1:00 PM  

  • "Just a Coke" is an interesting way to request specificity. To a northerner it almost seems like an insult, like saying "I'll bet you don't really want a Coke, I'll bet you just used our generic soda term, which you know very well also refers to a specific kind of coke. But perhaps you actually want a Coke, so I will give you an out by implying that you may need another coke in addition to the first one you ordered."

    But maybe I'm reading to much into it.

    Besides, we say plenty of stupid things up here, like "A couple-three" and "c'mere a minute." Ooh, and "Really much." I like that one.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:12 PM  

  • Well, I suppose in some sense it isn't that different than ordering a club soda here. If I went into a bar and wanted club soda and said I'll take a soda they would ask what kind. But the thing is, who the hell orders club soda by itself? And if you order a scotch and soda, no one would put Mountain Dew with your scotch or anything.

    I just don't get how the converasation would go between a southern customer and a southern waiter when the customer wanted sprite.

    Customer: I'll just take a coke.
    Waiter: What flavor?
    Customer: Sprite

    Is that how it goes? That's so fucked up? Why not just say sprite? If they actually want coke does the conversation just go on forever?

    Or do they even use it like that? Or do they just use it like, "On our way to the ball game we have to pick up some food, beer and Coke." But they mean a variety of soda?

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 9:32 AM  

  • Actually, as I mentioned previously, no one ever just asks for a Coke when they want Sprite. They'll say Sprite. There's never an odd, pop-cultural exchange where someone asks for Coke and someone asks, "What kind?"

    Like I said, it's a general term, only used when specifics aren't necessary, and we'll be damned if we say soda or pop! Damned I tell you!

    By Blogger Chris, at 2:12 PM  

  • "What kind of a place allows 'Pepsi' to be 'Coke?'"

    You see, down South, we don't drink Pepsi at all. What with Coke being made right down the road, why would we drink some second-rate Yankee drink?

    By Anonymous therisingjurist, at 1:35 PM  

  • Sorry to change the subject but the dude is wrong about the whole bubbler thing. WE WISCONSIN PEOPLE DO USE BUBBLER!!! Its really the drink fountain/water fountain but in Milwaukee area we call it a bubbler, and so does the southeastern part of the state. Don't believe me look it up. But as someone who's lived here my whole life i at least know the reason behind it too!

    By Anonymous Farmersdaughter, at 8:59 PM  

  • I'm from Tosa, BTW, and I didn't say that Wisconsinites don't say Bubbler. They do. What I did say is that we're wrong to say bubbler. That's all.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 9:16 AM  

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