Soda vs. Pop

By Candace Nelson - 8:00 AM

People across the United States have different words they use for "soft drink." While this is an interesting linguistics case study, people also often engage in friendly debate about which is "correct." Those familiar with linguistics know there is no "right" answer, but instead, they're all right, according to, most often, where you are located.

I say "pop."And I do joke with others when they say "soda," because it sounds southern to me. But if you look at the map above (that has been around for 10 years now), most of the southern states say Coke. If I said Coke, it would be referring to the brand-name cola beverage. You can vote for what you say here. And if you want to see individual responses for "other," click on a state here.

Sometimes this debate goes beyond friendly, but it's definitely interesting to see how one specific term gets people riled up. But looking at the history of the soft drink, soda people may win this battle.

Quick timeline here:
  • 1798 The term "soda water" first coined.
  • 1835 The first bottled soda water in the U.S.
  • 1851 Ginger ale created in Ireland.
  • 1861 The term "pop" first coined.
  • 1874 The first ice-cream soda sold.
  • 1876 Root beer mass produced for public sale.
  • 1881 The first cola-flavored beverage introduced.
  • 1885 Charles Aderton invented "Dr Pepper" in Waco, Texas.
  • 1886 Dr. John S. Pemberton invented "Coca-Cola" in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 1898 "Pepsi-Cola" is invented by Caleb Bradham.
  • 1919 The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages formed.
  • Early 1920's The first automatic vending machines dispensed sodas into cups.
  • 1929 The Howdy Company debuted its new drink "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas" later called "7 Up".
  • 1952 The first diet soft drink sold called the "No-Cal Beverage" a gingerale sold by Kirsch.
  • 1957 The first aluminum cans used.
  • 1959 The first diet cola sold.
  • 1962 The pull-ring tab first marketed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company of Pittsburgh, PA.
  • 1965 Soft drinks in cans dispensed from vending machines.
  • 1965 The resealable top invented.
  • 1970 Plastic bottles are used for soft drinks.
  • 1974 The stay-on tab invented.
  • 1979 Mello Yello soft drink is introduced by the Coca Cola company as competition against Mountain Dew.
  • 1981 The "talking" vending machine invented.
And, maybe the coolest yet, is the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that allows customers to make their own pop flavor ... 100+ different ways. Now, Morgantown is home to one. Five Guys restaurant has one. Check out my blog on that here. Maybe once we're all making our own combinations, the "soda" vs. "pop" debate will end, and we'll name each of our creations.

Can't wait to try the "Candace" pop soon.

  • Share:

You Might Also Like


  1. For the first 15 years of my life, I lived in Jackson County, WV, on the Ohio border. I drank pop. I moved to Mercer County, WV, on the Virginia border in 2001 & was made fun of for saying "pop" so I switched to "soda."

    Having said both at various points in life, I believe I prefer soda. It sounds classier to me.

    1. I've never heard of a soft drink being referred to as classy, haha. But I do see how "pop" could sound like a slang term for the beverage. We could compromise and go with sodapop?


All work property of Candace Nelson. Powered by Blogger.