Pop Or Soda? Hero Or Sub? 13 Regional Food Names Around America

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.


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. 

Tomato Sauce/Red Gravy

That red sauce that tops your spaghetti — you call it tomato sauce, right? Not in some Italian households (especially in the Philadelphia area, and on The Sopranos), where it's called red gravy, or just gravy. 

Pork Roll/Taylor Ham

First developed by a man named John Taylor in the 1850s, pork roll is made with processed ham and is sort of a cross between Spam and bologna (If it doesn't sound appealing, try it on a round roll with fried eggs and cheese). It's most popular in New Jersey; in North Jersey, it's called Taylor Ham; in South Jersey, it's called Pork Roll; and the terms are interchangeable in Central Jersey. 

Soft Serve/Creemee

What's called soft serve ice cream (the type that comes out of a dispenser) in the rest of the country is called a creemee (or creemie) up in Vermont. If you ever encounter a shop selling maple creemees (soft serve made with maple syrup), drop everything and buy one. 


Those tiny little colorful candies that are found on ice cream sundaes, cupcakes, and doughnuts are called sprinkles, right? Well, not in some parts of the Northeast (especially the Boston area), where they're known as jimmies. 

Green Bell Pepper/Mango

This one is particularly strange. In parts of the Midwest, especially Kansas, green bell peppers are called mangoes. Even though it might seem like the name came from completely out of the blue, the name comes from the fact that when mangoes were first imported to America in the 1600s they had to be pickled because of a lack of refrigeration. The name caught on with other fruits and vegetables that needed to be pickled, but the only one it stuck with over the years were green peppers. 

Jelly Doughnut/Bismarck

If you're in a doughnut shop in the Midwest and you spy a Bismarck, don't be confused; that's just another name for a jelly doughnut


In states of the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and North Dakota, the hotdish is a way of life. Cooked in a single baking dish, a typical hotdish contains ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, and a crust of tater tots, but the variations are endless. In the rest of the country, they're called casseroles, but in the Upper Midwest, just about every type of casserole is called a hotdish. 


Lollipops are the common name across the country for what's essentially hard candy on a stick, but in the Midwest and South you'll hear the term "sucker" used just as often. In some areas, a lollipop is disc-shaped, while a sucker is spherical. 


Officially termed crayfish, these decapod crustaceans resemble small lobsters and are hugely popular in the Gulf states. In the Gulf region, however, you'll hear them referred to as crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs, or even yabbies (actually an Australian name for them). They're only called crayfish in the northern states. 

Pancakes/Hot Cakes/Flapjacks

According to The Dictionary of Regional American English, pancakes have also been known as flapjacks, hot cakes, clapjacks, flapcakes, flapovers, flatcakes, flatjacks, flipjacks, flippers, flopjacks, flopovers, and slapjacks. While most of those regional names have gone the way of the dodo, pancakes are the Southern term, flapjacks are the Western term, and they're called hot cakes in parts of the North. 


A milkshake is a blended combination of milk, ice cream, and some other flavoring, right? Not if you live in New England, where milkshakes don't include ice cream; they're just frothed milk and syrup. Add ice cream and you've got a frappe (pronounced "frap"). And if you're in certain parts of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, a milkshake is called a cabinet (because that's where the blender is kept). The classic cabinet is made with Autocrat Coffee Syrup.