Are these cans of "soda" or "pop?"
Are these cans of "soda" or "pop?"

Do you say "soda" or "pop?"

Later this week, I will publish an article on OnMilwaukee.com about interesting alcoholic beverages made with soft drinks.

Researching this article topic reminded me that I have unsuccessfully tried to identify the invisible geographical dividing lines that demarcate where people say "pop" and others say "soda." I can't figure it out.

I have friends from northern and southern Wisconsin who say "pop," whereas I, who grew up in Milwaukee, have never called sugary carbonated beverages anything but "soda."

Is there a line zigzagging across Wisconsin that divides the pop drinkers from the soda drinkers?

It gets even more complicated when I try to figure out where the pop / soda boundaries exist across the entire country. I have friends from Minnesota, Illinois and California who say "pop" and friends from other parts of Illinois and California who say, "soda." And then there's my friend from Florida who calls everything "Coke" and my Kentucky-born father who called it "soda pop."

Any idea how or why these terms vary so much, particularly in Wisconsin? And are we in agreement that "soda" is the most widely used term for soft drinks here in Milwaukee?

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Talkbacks

brunocarlson | Aug. 30, 2011 at 2:31 p.m. (report)

35104 Duh peeps; it's carbonated soft drink and a "bubbler" is a drinking fountain. Water fountains are usually very massive and in parks; kids pee in them and adults toss change in them. Soda is for cooking or icky tummies; and pop is an action verb.

Who really cares. It has been debated for decades along with other regional dialects and nicknames. My mail-ordered Canadian wife calls it pop, while I (a long time Wisconsinite) call it "Coke" so that I am not labeled as said Wisconsinite.

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jimg | Aug. 24, 2011 at 4:53 p.m. (report)

I grew up in Michigan and called everything pop. I understood (at least in MI) it derived from the Faygo brand. One of their best selling flavors was Redpop, which Michiganders just shortened to Pop and assigned to everything.

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thinkabout | Aug. 24, 2011 at 2:44 p.m. (report)

I moved to Milwaukee in 1969 from Lincoln, Nebraska, where we drank pop. The only soda I knew was for baking (in the little yellow box) or for that other kind of drinking, as in "scotch and soda."

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Sidewinder | Aug. 24, 2011 at 11:34 a.m. (report)

I grew up in Minneapolis before College in Wisconsin and never could understand this quirk. In MN, 100% of the time, you asked for a "Pop".
My take on it was that my home state was MinnesoTa and you never pronounced it MinnesoDa. Doesn't explain that National map much but I always stood by my take on it.

So I was always called out as being a 'foreigner' whenever I ordered a "Pop" here out of habit. Fully shamed, I changed my order to PBRs and fell right in.

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Bayviewboozer | Aug. 24, 2011 at 7:17 a.m. (report)

I grew up in Northeast WI and we always had pop. I had my first soda when I moved to Milwaukee in 1980. My Dad had sodapop made at a soda shop.

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