Wednesday, February 1, 2012



Yesterday I saw this intriguing map posted on Facebook. It's a little hard to make out the details, but it depicts, county by county, the names Americans in different regions of the country give to soft drinks.

In the Northeast, as you can see, practically everybody uses the term "soda." In most of California and Arizona, people also say "soda." In the South people call all soft drinks "Coke," regardless of what brand they actually are. (This probably reflects the fact that Coca Cola originated in Georgia.)

And all across the Midwest and into Washington and Oregon, with the exception of two or three little pockets, people call soft drinks "pop."

What this suggests to me is that, culturally speaking, California and Arizona are linked to the Northeast, but the Pacific Northwest is an extension of the Midwest.

Which could account for a number of traits I've observed among Bendians and Oregonians in general, such as their fondness for bland food and bland entertainment (Midwesterners and Oregonians both think "A Prairie Home Companion" is just a laff riot) and their tendency to prize friendliness and "niceness" above all other qualities, especially intelligence and competence.

It also could account for Bendoids' ability to live in denial of the profound suckiness of their climate. For example, in this clip from the Coen brothers' wonderful movie "Fargo," Sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) has captured the murderer Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and is driving him back to face justice. She gives him a lecture on The Important Things in Life, concluding with the remark: "And it's a beautiful day."

Well, no, it is NOT a beautiful day. It is a horrible, hideous, terrible day. It's overcast, foggy, and the temperature looks to be about 35 below zero. As sucktackular weather goes, this day is off the charts.

But yet Marge Gunderson insists it's a beautiful day.

How Midwestern. How Oregonian. How Bend.

2 comments:

Jack Elliott said...

"Soda pop" is what we kids grew up calling soft drinks. Our parents hailed from Oklahoma. The Wikipedia says that " 'Soda pop' is used by some speakers, especially in the Mountain West."

I read a Canadian study about the names used for the furniture item called, variously, a chesterfield, davenport, sofa, couch, settee, or divan. They found that, like the soft drink study, different terms were favored in different regions.

H. Bruce Miller said...

I've always called it a sofa, but Mrs. Blackdog -- who grew up within a few miles of me -- calls it a couch.