What Do New Yorkers Call Soda? 

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 1, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Different parts of the World know soda by different names. ‘Fizzy drink’ in the UK, ‘Ramune’ in Japan, and ‘Fizzy juice’ in Scotland, to name a few.

Have you ever asked for a soda at a New York restaurant and got an awkward look from the waiter? Well, that’s because New Yorkers have a unique name for it. Over there, they call it Pop. 

The shocking aspect is that the name is unique in some areas of the state, such as Rochester, Buffalo, and the other parts of Western New York, while surprisingly, it’s called soda in the rest of the state.  

This debate has been on for years, with many websites specifically created to quench this curiosity. 

Meanwhile, behind the creation of this perfect drink is a back story that will keep you in awe reading it. So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in and look at the origin of Pop!

History Of Why They Call It Pop

coke brands

Generally, in the United States, each part of the state has a specific term for beverages. If you have visited New York before, you may likely be familiar with New Yorkers and their choices of words for phrases in conversation. 

For example, ‘coffee light’ means ‘with a lot of milk. While this might sound good, who doesn’t even want to learn something new? No one! However, this regional dialect can get you spoofed during a conversation, especially if you are a first-time traveler. 

People in this region tend to have specific names for some beverages, and one of them is soda is called Pop. 

The interesting history of ‘pop’ so started in 1812 when British poet Robert Southey penned a letter to his wife. In it, he said the drink was called ‘Pop’ because of the sound made by the cork when it’s opened and also because of the way you move when you drink too much. 

Who Else Calls It Pop vs. Soda In The US?

coke vs pepsi

While traveling to different parts of the United States, chances are you have heard other people calling soda numerous names aside from the New Yorkers; this might raise your curiosity about why it is called that. Which areas have a specific name for them? 

The particular answer to this prompt is that the variation is regional. So, the term used to address beverages depends on where you are located. In America, Soda is called one of 3 names depending on the region. They are ‘soda’, ‘pop’, and ‘coke’.

The name ‘Pop’ dominates the Midwest and a massive part of the West. States that use the term are Oklahoma, Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, and Indiana.

States in the North East and Hawaii, Arizona, California, Nevada, part of St. Louis, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Milwaukee use the term ‘soda‘. The word soda originates from soda water due to the fizziness of the soda water, so all carbonated drinks were associated with this word. 

There are regions in the U.S. such as Western Pennsylvania and Western New York, where these two terms compete for dominance.

Surprisingly, regions like Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi called it coke; although coke is generally known as coca-cola, these areas describe the word for all kinds of soda. But why do they call it coke despite knowing it’s a brand name for a specific company? 

Well, some theories claim that soda is called coke because the company originated in Georgia and was created by Dr. John S. Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist. So the southern states’ citizens always describe soda as coke. 

The best aspect of it is that, even if this is your first time visiting the United States, you will never experience any awkwardness because all three words are famous in every part of the States, so choose whichever you want to use in any region, they are sure to understand what you are talking about. 

Perhaps if there wasn’t the innovation of the other names, we might all be using onomatopoeia to describe every soda. 

Who Invented The Term Pop?

Regarding the word’s origin, we can’t directly say who invented the term. However, the earliest recorded use of the word was in that 1812 letter written by the British poet – Robert Southey. 

Southey wrote a letter describing how the cork popped out while opening his beverage. Since then, the term has been in use, and around the 1940s, it became increasingly popular after the introduction of ginger ale. 

People started calling it ginger pop or ginger ale based on their living area. Initially, the drink was called Vernors, but later, the name was changed to ginger ale, followed by ginger soda. 

The term quickly became recognized among carbonated drinks, previously referred to as seltzer water drinks. And despite introducing new beverages today, Pop is still applicable, especially with how caps make noise whenever you open a beverage or shake the carbonation. 

Where Did The Term Soft Drink Originate?

mixed soda can brands

Although soft drinks have been around since the 8th century, it was in Pennsylvania in 1798 that the name came about, and it has stuck since then. The phrase is derived from ‘soda water, ‘ primarily used to differentiate flavored drinks from hard liquor or distilled spirits. 

In 1769, Joseph Priestley invented carbonated water after discovering that he could suspend water over a fermented beer bat in a brewery, hence finding out that this is another method to infuse water with carbon dioxide (CO2.) 

Around 1771, there was a new invention of a similar process from the chemistry professor Torbern Bergman who was suffering from health issues and was trying to recreate naturally effervescent mineral spring water believed to cure illness. 

Later, they started creating carbonated water using carbonators. Soft drink production continued to be handled by local pharmacists believed to be experienced in medicine and chemistry until the 20th century. 

The first soda bottle was invented around the 1800s in the United States. Before 1914, pharmacists made drug concoctions and infused them inside soda beverages; however, this practice received criticism from people seeing it as habit-forming. 

In 1952, the first official diet soft drink was introduced, with many following behind till today. 

But why is a soda called a soft drink even to date? The word ‘soft’ is an adjective used regarding a non-hard drink. The drink is not entirely soft, but it’s non-alcoholic. So, since alcohol is mainly described as a hard drink, and the opposite of hard is soft, soft drinks are identified as soft about that. 

Conclusion

Soda has been around for centuries, and for an industry valued at 413 billion dollars, it looks like it’s here to stay. You must learn the name it’s called in your location to avoid embarrassment. In many regions of the world, people have different terms to describe the drink. 

For example, in the United States, you can find people from areas like Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, and Washington, calling it Pop. 

While places like Arizona, California, and Nevada, part of St. Louis, Wisconsin, and Missouri, address it as soda. Areas like Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, surprisingly call it with the brand name coke, which was said to be due to coke being invented in Atlanta, Georgia.

So while people are likely to understand what you are talking about everywhere you go, to avoid mishaps on one unlucky day, it’s best to learn every term used by every location.