Who would think that something as innocuous as what you would label a soft drink could define you? The above map, produced by GIS analysts at East Central University in Oklahoma and found at bigthink.com (I know it’s 5 years old, but hey, it’s still relevant), shows the distribution of soft drink names — pop, soda or coke — throughout the nation.
If anyone wonders where the Midwest is, it’s where soft drinks are “pop”.
A few things stand out to me. First, why is it that the Milwaukee area, northeastern Wisconsin and the St. Louis area are calling soft drinks “soda”? Did they get some sort of New England/Northeastern influence that the rest of the Midwest missed out on? And second, the prominence of “coke” that extends northward from Kentucky into southern and central Indiana shows how the Hoosier state has a distinctly Southern flavor.
Based on this map, two regions that may try to deny Midwest connections are firmly within the Midwest — western New York and western Pennsylvania. It’s true, accents from Buffalo residents are virtually indistinguishable from Detroiters.
Midwesterners: we are are a region without a fully developed identity, and I’m looking for anything that unites us.