Caramel is a delicious sweet treat that’s never been more on trend, with salted-caramel barbecue wings, salted-caramel Oreos and salted-caramel Pepsi just three recent foods using the flavor. But are you pronouncing the word “caramel” correctly?
Social media has been chewing over this sticky situation lately, with people coming down on either the “care-UH-mel” or the “car-mel” side, and very few folks staying neutral.
For some reason, the pronunciation debate is raging on Twitter this summer.
“How do people say carmel ??! It is carAmel for A reason,” wrote Twitter user Jamie.
Jamie also shared a pronunciation map of the U.S. put together in 2013 by Joshua Katz of North Carolina State’s department of statistics, showing that the “car-mel” pronunciation dominates the western and northern part of the nation, while “car-uh-mel” starts in southeast Texas and slowly slides diagonally up the southern states to New England.
Differing opinions were as plentiful as the variety of caramel treats.
In the U.K., however, some say it’s “care-uh-mel” or nothing.
And some point out that Carmel-by-the-Sea, the California city where Clint Eastwood was once mayor pronounces it Carmel and spells it without that pesky middle “a.”
You’d think the folks who make Kraft Caramels might be the definitive source on this, but a 1980 TV commercial for their candy muddies the waters even more. They don’t say “care-uh-mel,” but neither do they say “car-mull” as many do, instead pronouncing that second syllable like “mel” as in “Mel’s Diner.”
Kraft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Oxford English Dictionary – perhaps their mouths are full of caramels.
If just the thought of caramel, never mind the pronunciation, has you drooling for dessert, here are a batch of 150-calorie treats that will totally satisfy your dessert cravings.