It's been a long time, in blog years at least, since I revisited this topic, but it's a good one so let's fondly recall the raging debate not about budget deficits and job creation but instead about something truly important -- how to correctly refer to a soft drink.
Below you'll see the map that looks at how people around the country refer to soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.). You can also go directly to the site (mislabeled popvssoda when we all know coke is the correct generic term) and read up on the methodology, see better choices on mapping, and so on. It's cool.
The red is coke and found mostly in the South. Blue is soda, used largely in the northeast. Green is pop and is found in the vast middle of the country. There's also a state-by-state table form of the data for the geeks among you.
Want to dig deeper? There's a map that breaks it down by U.S. counties, which I used for a 2008 column that correlated this data with presidential voting. My column is slow to load, at least for me, but you can read it here. And why wouldn't you?
I'm thinking of predicting the presidential primaries or 2012 election with these data. It takes a lot of work to pull off but might be worth a little statistical fun. I'll keep you posted and if I do it, it'll probably run on some online news site as well as here.
The label's geographic differences do roughly fit a cultural, or even ideological breakdown. Left and right coasts, they agree, and tend to be more liberal. The South is more conservative and therefore could never use the same term as those Yankees and Left Coast types. Folks in the upper Midwest, etc.? They gotta have their own thing too as representatives (or so they'd say) of real America.
But as a child of the South (grew up in Tennessee, have lived in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and now Georgia), I can only refer to soft drinks as coke. Yes, even if it's a (ugh) Pepsi.
Unless of course we're talking about Sun-Drop, the greatest soft drink every made.