How to order your food across the country

2 min read

Regionalisms abound in American English, but you might find the most differences as eat and drink your way across the country. The term for a fizzy soft drink isn’t the same in Massachusetts as it is in Indiana, and you won’t even recognize some of the food names in Louisiana.

What’s an awful awful? Is there a difference between stuffing and dressing? And what on Earth is a po’boy? We’ll answer all these questions and more as we explore regional food terms across the United States.

Bread’s beginning and end

What do you call the two ends of a loaf of bread that few people eat? Many people in the U.S. say that's the heel, while others call the pieces the crust or the end. But you can’t leave out the tiny percentage in the Northeast who say it’s the schpitzel, or those in Louisiana who have dubbed it the nose.

Stuffed or dressed?

For Northerners, stuffing and dressing are separate entities. Dressing is a liquid you put on salad, whereas stuffing is a side of bread and seasoning that you have at Thanksgiving dinner.

Southerners say that dressing and stuffing are the same food item, but stuffing goes, well, stuffed inside the turkey.

A fizzy debate

On the East and West Coasts, a fizzy soft drink is called a soda. However, sandwiched between those two regions are the pops and cokes of the country. It doesn’t matter that Coke is also a brand name or that pop is what some people call their dad. In the Midwest, you’ll ask for a pop, and in the South, when you ask for a coke, the answer will be, “What kind?”

A sandwich by many names

Perhaps one of the hottest arguments of all food terms is the name of a cold sandwich packed full of meat, cheese, and veggies. While three-quarters of the country refers to it as a sub or submarine sandwich, once again the Northeast and Louisiana have to be different.

From Maine to Pennsylvania, you might get confused when someone orders a grinder, a hoagie, or a hero. They’re all the same thing, but they’re named based on how they’re eaten, where they’re made, and who can eat them. And in Louisiana? The sandwich you'll hear order often is a po'boy.

An awful lot of names

You might think of a cold, creamy, and sweet drink as a milkshake. But if you head up to Massachusetts, you’ll hear it called a frappe. That might sound weird, but you haven’t visited Rhode Island. There, it’s a cabinet or, even more perplexing, an awful awful. That last one comes from Newport Creamery’s slogan — "Awful Big! Awful Good!"

You Might Also Like:

Chat bubbles backgroundDaily QuestionWho has neophilia?

Start defining your knowledge

Get daily words and quizzes sent straight to your inbox!

By subscribing to Word Genius you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.