Anyone who has visited the South has probably heard a conversation like this:
Waitress: What would you like to drink?
Southerner: I'll have a coke.
Waitress: What kind of coke?
Southerner: I'll have a Coke.
And after this bizarre back and forth, the waitress goes off and comes back with (surprise!) a Coke. Like this:
But this is also a coke:
And so is this:
Yeah, Southerners are weird; obviously only one of those is a Coke. But this twilight zone of soft drinks doesn't end there - if you were at a diner in the Midwest they'd be offering you "pop" as if you were stuck in Pleasantville around 1950.
And what do you say in a bar - I'll have a Jack and pop? If you don't know the local custom you might end up with a very different drink than you ordered. Or a very awkward conversation. Or both. (And speaking of, I wonder if Southerners visiting the Northeast are terrified of ordering vodka sodas?)
This has driven me crazy for some time, but finally someone has done the research and crunched the numbers and categorically demonstrated all the crazy things people say when they mean to say "soda" (click to zoom):
See Strange Maps for the full details (I really like this site, if you hadn't noticed).