Pop or Soda? Hero or Sub? 13 Regional Food Names Around America
What do you call a carbonated beverage? How about a sandwich made on a long roll? Those little colorful things that top ice cream? There are lots of lots of foods whose names vary across regions, and we bet that you didn’t even know that some of them existed.
Do you know what soft serve ice cream is called in Vermont? How about what a jelly doughnut goes by in the Midwest? America is a huge place, and each region has its food-naming quirks. Just like some people call it a traffic circle while others call it a roundabout, where we come from plays a major role in what we term everyday things — especially in the kitchen.
Before American English became homogenized by television and the Internet, regional dialects thrived. All of this can get a little confusing, so we’ve assembled all the major regional food term variations in one place. Now you won’t be confused the next time you travel to South Boston and somebody offers you a killah spuckie.
So read on for 13 different foods that are all essentially the same thing, but with differing names. There’s no right term for any of these, so there’s no use in trying to argue with anyone who calls something by a different name than you’re used to. It’s just an opportunity to recognize how diverse and huge this country is!
A long sandwich, traditionally made on an Italian roll with various cold cuts and cheeses, is called a sub (or submarine, because of its similar shape) in most of the country. But it’s also known as a hoagie in the Philadelphia area; a hero in New York; a grinder in New England; a wedge in Westchester, New York and Fairfield, Connecticut; a zeppelin or zep in eastern Pennsylvania; a spuckie in parts of Boston (supposedly short for a kind of Italian loaf called a spucadella, though that term is unknown in Italy); and a blimpie in parts of New Jersey.
What do you call a carbonated beverage? According to this regional breakdown, it depends on where you live. In most northern states (except for the Northeast) it’s called a pop; in the Northeast, Southwest, and Florida it’s called a soda; and in the South it’s just a coke, no matter what type of carbonated drink it is.