Pop Culture

Kevin Drum does what his mama tells him, publishing a joke that’s apparently going around about the Bush administration. It would, of course, be funnier if the persons involved were Democrats, but it’s not bad.

He also passes along this amusing map of what people around the country call carbonated soft drinks. As a Southerner, I should reflexively call them all “Cokes” as I did in my youth. Sadly, I’ve been calling them “sodas” for years, displaying wanton disregard for my heritage. If I ever start calling them “pop,” please shoot me.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    I still remember the time as a kid, when we went to a restaurant and I was debating between iced tea and an orange soda (Fanta, no doubt). I decided on the orange, so I told the waitress I wanted a Coke, and she walked away before I had a chance to tell her what kind of Coke I actually wanted.

  2. McGehee says:

    I’ve been living in “Coke” country for almost five years, after spending five years in a frontier outpost of “pop” country. My Dad grew up in “pop” country and my mother was from “pop” country too.

    I still think of them as “soda,” but I try to say “soft drinks” or “beverages” instead.

    But y’know, as young kids growing up in the heart of “soda” country, my brother and I actually called ’em all “Cokes,” at least for a few years. Go figure.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Yep. Happened to me at a pizza place in 7th grade. I wanted an orange Coke, too.

  4. There is (or was) a “tonic” pocket around Boston.

  5. Attila Girl says:

    Wow. I mean, I’ve been known to use Coke as a generic name for cola. But for another kind of soft drink . . .?

    My husband’s from Chicago, and if he wants to poke fun (gently) at native Chicagoans whose accents are in the thick of it he’ll try to use the words “pop” (for soda) and “jagoff” in the same sentence, with those big Chicago vowel sounds. Makes me laugh every time.

    (If he wants to make fun of the way my family talks he’ll say warsh, with the “r” in it. My mom does this, and I did it until I was 18 or so.)

  6. Jay Solo says:

    I grew up on the South Shore in Massachusetts (Boston area, close enough) calling it tonic. When I got old enough to know how colloquial that was, and to see it referred to in stores more and more as soda, I switched. Tonic seems to have been slowly dying as a name for it here for decades. My older brother still says tonic. Most people don’t. Once in a while someone around here calls it pop.

    The first time I ever heard of the “Coke” expression (a direct result of blogging and blog reading) I thought it was the most absurd thing I ever heard. I still do. It’s completely nuts, calling a generic drink type a brand name and expecting folks to know what you’re talking about. When I was a kid, one of the incentives to stop saying tonic was periodically teachers would point out regionalisms and pick on tonic as an expression that could be confused and was therefore silly. Tonic makes infinitely more sense than Coke as a generic term for carbonated beverages.

  7. Boyd says:

    Jay Solo: It’s completely nuts, calling a generic drink type a brand name and expecting folks to know what you’re talking about.

    Yeah, next thing you know, folks will start calling tissues “Kleenex.” I know, it’s not exactly the same thing, but it works.

  8. OF Jay says:

    I grew up calling ’em “softdrinks,” and had the hardest time getting my point across when I first moved to MD. Seems they’ve been called “sodas,” for the longest time here, although, Doc, “pop” isn’t so bad. Has a hippie feel to it, hmm?

  9. While going to school in Minnesota, I found the natives were militant about calling the fizzy stuff “pop.” If you use “soda” you’re instantly identified as a Wisconsinite. Then comes the neverending cheesehead references.

  10. JW says:

    We call them “Coke” down here in Mississippi because for years the only ones you got in a bottle WERE Coca-Colas, becuase the first place in the world they were bottled was in Vicksburg. Here’s the proper way teetotalling Mississippians exchange cold beverages:

    “You want a Coke?”
    “Yeah, what kind you got?”
    “Coke, Dr. Pepper, RC Cola, and Orange Nehi.”
    “I’ll take the RC Cola and a moonpie with it. Thanks.”

    What could be more simple than that? 🙂