Soda Pap


Americans can't seem to agree whether it's "soda," "pop," or (most confusing, to me at any rate) "coke." But we all know it's partly to blame for the "obesity epidemic," a mysterious affliction sweeping the nation that only swift government action can stop… right? Radley Balko says not so fast.

NEXT: Attn Bay Area Reasonoids: Come Celebrate Choice with Nick Gillespie and Tim Cavanaugh

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. For some reason, every time I tell somebody I grew up in Milwaukee they just assume that I must refer to soda as “pop.” I don’t know where people use that word, but I know it isn’t Milwaukee.

  2. It was definitely “pop” in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Portland. I’ve been in the DC area for almost six years, and it still seems weird to call it “soda”…

  3. It’s “soda.”

  4. Speaking of public confusion, I’d like to see the answers from ten people on the street: Which is worse: a drop of fat or a calorie?

    Where I grew up, we called every soft drink a “co-cola.” I noticed the map showed a radius around Atlanta, home of Coke, wherein people call ’em coke.

  5. In Ft. Knox, KY, we called it “Coke.” In Columbia, MO it was “soda.” In Iowa City, IA
    it is “pop”. I resisted saying “pop” for many years, but you hear it for long enough, you eventually give up. My husband is from Connecticut, and after 10 years in Iowa he still refuses to say “pop”.

  6. Around here, it’s called “soda.” Just like water fountains are called “bubblers.”

  7. I grew up in Louisville, right next door to the fine track heads at Ft. Knox, and we were “Coke” people as well. I had been led to believe that the regions with this quirk got it from WWII, when Coca Cola bottling at one point made a commitment that every soldier in the European theatre would be able to buy a Coke for a nickel, so they actually moved bottling operations over seas at one point to make it happen. As a result, there was huge brand loyalty when everyone came home, as “Coke” became associated in the minds of many GIs with “America.”

    I love the story, and I think I saw something on the Food Network once that supported the idea, so if anyone knows that it is BS, don’t let me know. I’d rather hold onto that one.

  8. The only confirmation that I can get from my sources (unnamed retired Texas Air National Guardsmen) are that beer cost $.15 and soda was $.05 and coke was all you could get (although there were several different beers available at the PX’s).

  9. ‘s only a Coke if its coca-cola. Thats a sub-category of soda. Anyone who said pop is long dead by now. at least here in Jersey.

  10. Can’t we just enjoy the regional quirks instead of trying to homogenize the language? It’s not like people are so stupid they can’t figure out what “soda” and “pop” mean.

  11. Back home on Long Island, at college in Syracuse NY, and here in Lancaster PA, it’s “soda.” But in northern/western PA, including Elk County where much of my father’s family resides, it’s “pop.” At least in PA, some point in the Appalachians seems to be the dividing line.

  12. I want to know what the “other” category contains–do people call them soft drinks? or pepsis? Also, having grown up in GA, when I asked for a coke, that’s exactly what I meant–don’t give me any of those other soft drinks, damn it. I think most people down there mean the same thing: we wouldn’t drink anything else, so we call the one and only real thing “coke.”

  13. As a kid on Lawn Island, it wasn’t that unusual to hear the elixir referred to as “soda pop,” especially from older folks.

    I’d rather have a chocolate egg cream, anyway.


  14. Grew up in San Diego. It was coke. Then I went to school in MI. There it is “pop”. Pop is retarded.

  15. Not so fast, Dave Straub. It was pop for many, many years here in Central NY until you Long Island college kids arrived. I remember you guys would get so incensed when the word ‘pop’ was used in your presence.

    Thirty years ago I thought, “How childish.” Now I think, “How conservative, hegemonically forcing one’s geoethnocentric belief system on other’s for the sake of the comfort of homogeneity.”

    And a merry ‘Pop’ to you, sir!

  16. .. I don’t see “sody water” anywhere on the list ..

  17. I always call it sody pop, but then I mainly do that as an annoying affectation. Not unlike the “THOUGHT CRIMINAL” baseball hat I wear.

    I am probably just bringing this up due to the previous discussion of relativity, but…

    Mr Balko says “Guidance and influence for those decisions should probably come from parties whose main interest is our health — our doctors, for example.”

    I found that a incredibly interesting. I thought MD’s to be most interested in thier own success. Oh there are some Jonah Salks out there, but?

    History does not seem to bear out the statement that Mr. Balko makes, hence the popularity of such treatments as Electro Shock Therapy and forced sterilization of certain segments of the population. I have had Dr’s interested in my health, but I have worked with many, and I cannot honestly point to any piece of evidence that says the health of the patient outranks, for instance, respect of ones peers. Hence, if success says…don’t treat black men with dangerous STD’s but observe them for the medical record, the doctors involved don’t mind. (I think you might be fimilar with this?) I personally have found working in the R & D field that this is the standard, not the patients health. It is one of the reasons that the marketing people sit in on the earliest meetings in Big Pharma R & D. Even should the drug be high benefit to mankind, if it does not have significant monetary benefits, the company does not follow it up. So what? The free market. But, within the free market the one who understands the real motivations stands the biggest benefit.

    I would never make the mistake of thinking that my Doctor, who I respect, is cheifly concerned with my health. Personally I have found his main concerns (I am friends with him) to be 1. His sex life 2. His portfolio and 3 His boat. My health is far below respect from his peers, and maitaining the status quo. I still like him. But I only trust him in so far as I know him. As I do government.

  18. I had a friend in college that referred to every carbinated beverage as a “tonic”, regardless of flavor. I think she was from around Boston. In Colorado, where I grew up, they were all pops, but I call them all sodas now.

  19. It’s interesting (well, to me at least) how that map kinda mirrors the much-referenced ‘Red State – Blue State’ map. I was also rather surprised that the area saying ‘pop’ is so large, but then looking at the votes it’s very close to even between ‘soda’ and ‘pop’ (less than 5% difference). ‘Coke’ has a 20% total, so about half of what the other two have. I’m actually rather surprised that ‘coke’ is that prevalent.

    As for the obesity tie-in: to me the reason that so many people are trying to make that connection is because drink manufacturers are some big companies, with big wallets, and that attracts the activists like flies to… well, you know what.

  20. In Western New York, it’s “pop,” and it’s pronounced with an “o” that is so flat it sounds like an “a”. Here in Massachusetts it’s “soh-der”.

    This appears to be the carb craze bubbling all the way up. Carbs do not make you fat. Fat doesn’t even make you fat. Carbs, fat, and sitting on your ass flipping through the television stations makes you fat, and no act of Congress is going to save you from being a lazy shit. Likewise, nothing that a school is going to do will rescue kids from their parents’ lack of parenting skills. Buy your child some bottled water and make them walk to school.

    I think eventually society will degrade to the point where I as a thin and (generally) healthy person will be as “unqualified” to speak on the matter of consumption and exercise as a male is considered “unqualified” to speak on abortion. Perhaps a “National Association for the Advancement of Overweight People”…or perhaps the “American Federation of Lardasses – Congress of the Insanely Obese”….will one day protect Fat Culture from the segment of society that seeks to change them. “Equal Access” will mean doorways are made of a flexible material, or have emergency crowbars nearby. Fat people who lose weight and speak out against overeating will be viewed as “traitors” who were “brainwashed by the right.” Jared will be burned at the stake as a Fat Heretic.

    It’s not like people are so stupid they can’t figure out what “soda” and “pop” mean.

    We are talking about people who sue McDonald’s for their fat asses, as if it was not patently obvious that a big mac, french fries, and a sedentary lifestyle (and/or aging) don’t go well together. If that’s not abject stupidity, then it is at least a significant mental deficiency. So yes, I would think these are the same people who would benefit from a further taxonomy, even if for no other purpose than to establish soda as the no-calorie no-carb whistle-wetting carbonated water that would probably go better with one’s couch potato tendencies than that 20-oz guzzler of “pop”.

  21. Highway, You said “As for the obesity tie-in: to me the reason that so many people are trying to make that connection is because drink manufacturers are some big companies, with big wallets, and that attracts the activists like flies to… well, you know what.”

    Well maybe. But I am not an activist and I came by my concerns over sugar pop the honest way. Pouring over med studies. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but when you stare at thousands of tables endlessly, looking for some patterns (I was mainly looking at GI issues as relating to anti-inflammatories in a work environment) you start to see some disturbing trends. I saw them in two places: Blood sugar levels in those who drank liquids with sugar added during the manufacturing process, and a higher weight on average. Now because these weren?t controlled for the specific terms, it was only a flag…you know…hey, this is interesting. Maybe something to check out….

    Some folks in the world are truly mercenary, but more are, shall we say over enthusiastic. And they can harm me…but I don’t know here…superficially, I don’t drink any liquid with sugar added in the processing. I think I’m better off for it. At this point I’m not in any way satisfied with the way the studies have been organized or interpreted.

    I think the best we can hope for from the government is that it can referee a bit. But…well, the gov ain’t too good at that. It keeps stealing the ball and shooting. Ho hum.

  22. True that rst,

    People have been conditioned into thinking a walk through the neighborhood is exercise. It isn’t. It is what any viable member of the species should be able to do. Congress can’t ban laziness.

    What’s a thin person to do? I feel no guilt eating junk food because I am an active person and in decent shape.

    Yet they keep trying to inflict Nutritional Morality. Even Nietzsche didn’t think of that one.

    Idle speculation, but this might be in some way tied into the concept of noncompetitive sports urged in public schools.

  23. I live in the Deep South (southern Mississippi) it’s Coke around here, that means any carbonated drink, but you better not offer me a Pepsi.

  24. My Dad (Syracuse, NY) called it Soda-pop. When he moved us to Australia we all had to learn to call it Cordial.

    Then in Canada I learned to call it pop. When I moved to Florida I learned to call it soda.

    Does that make me multi-lingual?

  25. Skeptikos–
    Diabetes and obesity are not caused by sugary drinks; they’re caused by *too many* sugary drinks. I have a soda once every couple of weeks or so, and even though it has no nutritional value it doesn’t hurt me, either, judging from the fact that I’m still underweight and non-diabetic.

    Remember how in the Seventies and Eighties there were bulletins approximately every week, wherein government scientists discovered yet another substance that causes cancer in lab rats when the rats were fed ridiculous amounts of various things? Turns out that when taken in moderation, all those deadly substances were perfectly safe.

  26. But I am not an activist and I came by my concerns over sugar pop the honest way. Pouring over med studies.

    Well, there’s your problem. You’re actually supposed to just drink them.

  27. In Idaho, it was pop. Here in Arizona, I don’t know. I don’t drink it anymore.

  28. Isaac Bartram–
    Not sure about Australia (always thought the dialects were similar, but they are a bit weird up there), but in New Zealand “Cordial” refers to non-carbonated (usually artificially)fruit-flavored drinks. Carbonated drinks are “fizzy drinks”, or “soft drinks”.

  29. In MI it’s pop.

    It’s easier than saying “soda”

  30. I like “soft drink.” I don’t know, it’s kind of pissy.

  31. My folks came from St Paul and so I grew up calling it “pop” but somewhere that got lost and it’s now “soda” or generically “coke”, but mostly “soda”.

  32. rst isn’t quite a prophet, because there already is a National Association To Advance Fat Acceptance.

    The Wisconsin Dental Association has been running TV PSAs warning kids against sipping soda all day, including some pretty gruesome photos of the effects of sugar and carbonation on one’s teeth. Personally, I’ve really cut back my soda intake, which has been diet for years, anyway. I get enough or too much sugar in the rest of my diet, so why add it in liquid form? When water or black tea or coffee get boring there’s sugar-free lemonade. I won’t go as far as sugar-free “beer”, though.

    These studies are awfully quiet about diet soda intake, aren’t they?


  33. old boston irish call it “tonic”. rest of the state calls it “soda” mostly, but in some towns near New Hamshire way you hear “coke” .

    “Pop” is just stupid.

  34. Everyone I know here in Arizona refers to carbonated drinks as “soda”, although in resturants we mostly just ask for “coke” because that’s what 80% of places seem to carry anyway.

    I am sure it’s bad to drink too many sodas in short period of time. However I need caffiene, and my coffee preferences are so complex that soda becomes the next best alternative.

    If they’d just create a caffiene patch that would release it directly into my bloodstream, I’d go with that!

  35. Aleana:

    You may soon be able to chew your way to alertness.

    Wrigley received a patent in 2002 for a caffeine-coated gum that controls the release of the stimulant. The product was different from the Wrigley-made “Stay Alert,” a caffeine-laced gum in stick form. Stay Alert no longer is sold, said Wrigley spokesman Chris Perille.

    That same year GumRunners, a privately held Hackensack, N.J., company, introduced its caffeine pellet gum that comes in two flavors, spearmint and icy mint. (Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum)

    Chicago Tribune, August 31, 2004,1,985018.story

    I’d be surprised if FDA or some other alphabetical didn’t regulate this to the point of unprofitability, though.


  36. In SUNY Albany in the early 80s, the kids from Buffalo and Rochester seemed to mostly call it pop (at least during freshman year) while the downstaters called it soda.

    Then everyone basically switched to beer.

  37. MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm..

    Genessee Cream Ale.


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.