Pop vs Soda....the Great Midwest Debate!

The Midwest loves its carbonated beverages.  From the Michigan cure-all Vernors, to the Scarlet Soda for the Buckeye State, to Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer in Indiana, we Midwesterners agree that fizzy drinks are great.

But one thing we don't always agree on is whether it is Pop, or is it Soda?

We have spent decades researching this subject, and truly feel this blog will put the great debate to rest, once and for all!  So crack open a cold Faygo, and let's begin....

History of Soda Pop.

Roman Spring, home to Mineral Water, and Pop!

In the early 18th century, people tried to mimic natural mineral water, due to it's believed curative powers. Ancient Romans believed mineral water was a gift from the gods, and had the ability to prolong life, cure illness, and aid in procreation(sounds like Vernors!).  But how did early inventors create that mineral water flavor?  Chalk and Acid....yum!

In the 1760's, Jacob Schweppe pioneered the first palatable Mineral Water(or seltzer to be exact), and by 1798, his "Soda Water" became the mainstream term for carbonate water.



Let's sweeten the deal.

kola nut, doesnt it look refreshing?

By the 19th century, flavored syrups will becoming popular as a way to sweeten the somewhat flavorless soda water.  In 1886, J.S. Pemberton took things to another level, by concocting a drink using soda water and the African Kola nut...spoiler alert, this is what became Coca-Cola.  As other cola based drinks, like Dr. Pepper and Pepsi, rose to fame, the term "Pop" was given to the drink by a British poet Robert Southy, because "pop goes the cork" when it is drank, and "pop you would go off too, if you drank too much of it!"


vintage coca-cola ad

"Coke" enters the debate!

Just when we are getting close to a resolution, the South comes in and throws a very big wrench in the works!  Down South, they call it coke(Not Coke....coke).  The term "coke" is a general term for any flavored carbonated beverage, and while we may scoff at this, the origin is actually pretty sound.  If you remember back when we talked about the history of soda water, J.S. Pemberton pioneered the popular Kola flavored soda water, Coca-Cola?  Well, coke was a general term for any flavored soda pop, since Coca-Cola was really a lot of people's first introduction to the fizzy drink.  

But let's be honest, this debate is really just about Pop and Soda!

The Final Verdict.

Sure, soda was a term that originated about 100 years before pop, but pop was a term given to the drink that more closely resembles Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Faygo, and Vernors.  When referring to club soda, soda water, and other mineral water-ish drinks, we still call it soda.  But saying club soda and a Rock N' Rye are the same thing is like saying a steak is the same as a hamburger.  Sure, the basis of the two are the same, but it is the added flavoring that transforms "soda" into "pop", which is why there is only one true name for a FLAVORED carbonated beverage....it's pop, never call it soda!

*And if you need one more piece of evidence to prove this, the best arguement I ever heard was given by a customer at Motor City Comic Con; "when you leave a Faygo in your car overnight in the winter, does the bottle 'soda' or does it 'pop'?"


Ok, I just discovered something HUGE that not only makes me question my verdict, but makes me question how much any of us Michiganders are paying attention.  If you look on the bottle of any Vernors bottle, can, or box....what does it say right below the logo?  "The Original Ginger SODA!"  Our state drink literally says soda, not pop, right on the label!  Michigan, how have we ignored this glaringly obvious detail for this many years?

Oh well, I guess the debate rages on!


Spicy Facts About Vernors Ginger Ale | Michigan's Oldest Pop
Back to blog