Soda, Pop or Tonic. Use of each of these terms in referring to a soft drink can indicate where you reside, or at least where your family roots reside. “Soda” is a term generally used throughout New England, New Jersey and eastern portions of New York and Pennsylvania. Oddly though it’s also used commonly on the other side of the country in California and Arizona as well. A good portion of the rest of the country calls soft drinks “pop” or "soda pop." In the South people often use the term "coke" to mean any generic soft drink; a bit puzzling because true Southerners LOVE their Coca-Cola, especially for breakfast. My favorite soft drink term however is “tonic,” traditionally used in the greater Boston area and other parts of eastern Massachusetts. But increasingly the term is moving out of common usage, especially among younger folks. It’s rather an old fashion term, dating back to the origins of soft drinks as medicinal elixirs and health tonics, often braced with alcohol or pain killing drugs. Moxie soft drink was originally Moxie Nerve Food and Coca-Cola openly advertised that it cured headaches. The 1906 Food and Drug Act did away with the “tonic” aspect of these beverages and was really the launch for the soft drink industry as we know it today (helped along by Prohibition!).
Of course then there is tonic water, my personal favorite for a soft drink. I consume it pretty much daily. Tonic water contains quinine, giving it medicinal qualities. The British used it to ward off malaria in India and throughout their empire. And you know it works – I’ve been malaria free my entire life!