It’s a question that has raged amongst my friends for several long years: When referring to soft drinks — or, if you prefer, carbonated beverages — what’s the best generic descriptor? Is it soda? Could it be pop? Or do you simply lump every single drink under the “Coke” banner? A common belief is that city folk use the word “soda” to describe these refreshments, while those less-civilized individuals employ the term “pop”. My stance: Call the drink what it is. If you’re downing a Dr. Pepper, call it Dr. Pepper. It’s really not that difficult. Stop being lazy.
Twitter data scientist Edison Chen recently started pouring over the use of these three words in order to ascertain where, precisely, they are used the most. He collected the data by first searching for pop/soda/coke-related messages containing the user’s location. After making sure these words weren’t being utilized for something specific (Coke as a brand, for example) or in reference to something else, Chen began mapping out the results.
According to the data, Midwestern residents tend to favor the term “pop”, while “soda” seems to be more popular with individuals who live on the coasts. Using “Coke” generically is typically a Southern activity. If you’re the sort who enjoys messing with people’s heads, ask a waiter/waitress at a swanky New York City restaurant for a pop and see what happens. When your back has been properly turned, chances are they’re going to laugh at you.
For a visual interpretation of Chen’s data, take a look at the maps below. For a more detailed analysis with bigger images, take a trip to Edison Chen’s blog.