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A Michigander from birth, I have yet to visit New York City. However, one of my grandparents’ favorite places to vacation was Niagara Falls, and they always took us grandchildren with them during our summer vacation. We stayed on both sides of the Falls, the United States side in Buffalo, New York, and the Canadian side in Niagara, Ontario.

So, I have been to New York, just upstate, not to the City where the Spanish term bodega became a commonplace word, even for the “Gringos”(English-speaking folks). Speaking of Gringos, when I first heard this term, it was from an uncle I had who moved to New York City for work. When he was transferred back to Michigan, he kept that word in his everyday vocabulary! Obviously, he claimed and adjusted to New York’s version quite easily.

In Spanish, bodega is a term for “storeroom,” “wine cellar,” or “warehouse,” with a similar origin to the words “boutique” and “apothecary”; the precise meaning varies regionally in the Spanish language, and the later New York City term evolved from Puerto Rican and Cuban usage for “small grocery.” –Wikipedia

Depending on where you live, there are different terms for a convenience store. Here are some common synonyms for convenience store:

  • Party Store, Michigan
  • Bodega, New York City
  • Carry out
  • Pantry, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
  • Mini market
  • Mini-mart
  • Corner shop
  • Deli or milk bar (Australia)
  • Dairy, New Zealand
  • Superette, New Zealand, parts of Canada, and parts of the US
  • Market, UK, and parts of the US
  • Off-licence, UK
  • Corner stores in the US, Canada, and parts of Australia
  • Stop & Shop, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut,
  • Depanneur, Quebec, Canada
  • Kwik-E-Mart, US (popularized by The Simpsons)
  • Tante Emma Laden, Germany
  • Dagwinkel, Netherlands
  • Alimentation, France
  • Pantry, Southern US
  • Pocket, New Zealand

According to a BBC article, “As Puerto Ricans began migrating to New York City in large numbers in the 1920s (after the island became part of the US in 1917), they took over the stores, which came to be known as bodegas,”. They went on to quote a filmmaker, who said, “Bodegas became the social hub, the social network. Anything that was happening, you could find out in the bodega, even the bad rumors,” said documentary filmmaker Lilian Jiménez. “Bodegueros were highly respected and people trusted them. My mother would say, ‘If you ever get into trouble, run to the bodega,’.”

Besides the various names or terms for “convenience store,” what else varies by region or state? Let’s find out…

Pop or soda by state

As mentioned earlier, I am from Michigan, and Michiganders say “pop.” I can remember when we would spend several weeks in the summer down on the Jersey shore, and they would always look at us sideways when we ordered a pop. On the East Coast, where we visited, they call it “soda.”

Same thing happens when I ask what type of pop they have when I am in North Carolina. They call all soda “coke”. For example, the server will come by and ask, “Would anyone like a coke?”. Whereas my mother would sarcastically reply, “No. I’d like a Pepsi”. She was a funny lady.

When we travel to Florida during the winter months, the same thing happens when we ask what type of pop they have; inevitably, they, too, look at us sideways. Florida uses the term soda.

In addition to the states mentioned above, there are other states that have their own unique term for carbonated beverages, such as:

  • Soda for New Hampshire and Virginia
  • In the Midwest, residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota commonly refer to soda as pop
  • On the West Coast, Oregon, and Washington also use the term pop to describe soda
  • In the southern states of Texas and Georgia, the preferred term for soda is soft drink

These varying regional linguistic quirks add a touch of local flavor to the simple act of ordering a fizzy drink. So now, when I travel, I merely just ask for an iced tea and skip the pop altogether! However, I had another problem when I traveled to the South; I had to decide whether I should order sweet tea or non-sweetened tea! Oh well, at least those of us in the US call water, water.

And here’s some historical data regarding soda:

1798Soda water
1809Ginger pop
1863Soda pop
1880Soft drink

Let’s see what other historical facts we can find about that tasty sparkling treat we in Michigan call pop.

Who made the first soda in the world?

In 1767, a European man named Joseph Priestly figured out how to infuse water with carbon dioxide, creating the first carbonated beverage. Back then, people believed carbonated water cured illnesses, so “soda” was sold in pharmacies.

The process, however, wasn’t commercialized until 1786 in Switzerland by a man named Jacob Schweppes. Today, we see Schweppes primarily used for alcoholic beverages; however I do love their ginger ale. But as a Michigander, my ginger ale heart belongs to Verners. And in our household, Verners is the most prescribed solution for a tummy ache.

By today’s standards, market control of the soft drink industry varies on a country-by-country basis. PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company remain the two largest producers of soft drinks across the globe. In North America, Keurig Dr Pepper and Jones Soda also hold a significant amount of market share.

Other popular soda brands around the world include Fanta, Sprite, and Mountain Dew, each offering a unique flavor profile to cater to different tastes. In recent years, there has been a shift towards healthier soda alternatives, such as sparkling water, kombucha, and natural fruit juice-based sodas.

Some companies have also introduced sugar-free or zero-calorie versions of their sodas to appeal to health-conscious consumers. The rise of craft sodas and boutique soda shops have also become popular, offering small-batch, artisanal soda flavors for those looking for a more premium experience. Overall, the soda industry continues to innovate and evolve to meet the changing preferences of consumers.

Why do New Yorkers call stores bodegas?

In conclusion, bodega is just another word for market, party store, mini-mart, etc., depending on where you live. And even though we all live in the same country, or even region, we say things slightly differently, yet in the same language. So the next time you go to a bodega, make sure you ask for a soda!

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