Soda vs. pop: No contest in Joliet
By Brian Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org July 7, 2012 7:46PM
An informal survey finds that carbonated beverages usually are called “pop” in the Joliet area. | Brian Stanley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 9, 2012 9:29AM
The newsroom. The police station. My own house.
Once again, I was being questioned for referring to a carbonated beverage as “soda.”
I went with the wrong half when “soda pop” was shortened in the common speech for this region. I rarely drink the stuff, but I call it soda because my mother, who grew up in Oak Lawn, thinks of soda as soda, but reporter Cindy Cain grew up in Oak Lawn and always has thought “pop.”
So to figure out the origin of this schism, I’d need to take an informal poll at the birthplace of the soft drink — Joliet.
John D. Paige, born in 1837, would serve as mayor, police chief, fire chief, assessor and supervisor for Joliet and Joliet Township, but he made his living as a storekeeper.
Paige is credited with developing the process of bottling flavored beverages with pressurized gas, inventing “soda pop” in a store along Bluff Street’s Merchants Row. A plaque near the store’s underground cellar, which still stands at Bicentennial Park, claims that occurred during the 1850s.
I began with county government, asking Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas (R) and Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil (D) what they called their drinks.
Two more “pops.”
As I wondered about moving outside the city for more comparison, Channahon police Detective Adam Bogart was standing in the wrong hallway for questioning.
When that didn’t work as expected, I asked Herald-News intern Mary Kate Knorr and reporter Janet Lundquist.
Pop: Everyone. Soda: Brian.
Perhaps academia would back me up? It seemed no one at the high school could call me back this summer, but Joliet Library Director Dianne Harmon would have books to reference. Besides, for years she and my now-retired mother went to the same library conferences where the same drinks would be served.
“Here at the library, it’s ‘pop,’ ” Harmon told me.
Perhaps “soda” is used by those who’ve moved on to fame outside the area. But as of Friday afternoon, my twitter messages to Adrianne Curry, Andy Dick and Lionel Richie were unanswered.
National politicians also refused to enter the “soda” vs. “pop” debate. My emails to the White House and the Mitt Romney campaign also got no response.
Disappointing, but considering I was asking about something that’s only nutritional value is to someone slipping into a diabetic coma, I can understand.
I was left with the successors to Paige’s public service legacy. Unfortunately, Fire Chief Joe Formhals and Police Chief Mike Trafton call it pop.
Though Trafton admitted his wife, Melissa, will call it “sodey” as an homage to her southern Illinois upbringing.
I’ve traveled far enough south that they refer to all soda as “Cokes” including Pepsi and will smack someone in the arm if they say “give me a pop.” Luckily, someone calling it “soda” doesn’t have to worry about that.
My final hope was another of Paige’s “descendants.” I had to ask someone who could officially represent how soda pop is referred to in the city of it’s birth and called Mayor Tom Giarrante.
“It’s pop,” hizzoner said. “Soda is what I put in my scotch if I want a drink.”
After trying to find some local support to agree with me, I could use one. Easy on the soda.