Chicagoans Have An Alternative Answer To: Tennis Shoes or Sneakers?

CHICAGO (CBS) — Do Chicagoans refer to things differently than the rest of the nation?

Although Chicagoans, compared to the rest of the Midwest, do not answer differently to most questions, there is one specific question, they answer different than most: What do you call athletic footwear?

Josh Katz, author of “Speaking American: How Ya’ll, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide,” surveyed more than 350,000 Americans on how they talk and refer to specific things. The results revealed regional trends and surely got people talking.

Elizabeth Minkel posted one graphic from the book on Twitter, which soon after went viral.

Minkel was in shock about how many people refer to athletic footwear as “tennis shoes,” but Chicagoans are the true odd men out here as they use neither “tennis shoes” or “sneakers” but rather “gym shoes.” The survey found Chicago and Cincinnati are the only cities to use the term “gym shoes.” Nearly all of the Midwest uses “tennis shoes” and the northeast and parts of Florida use the term “sneakers.”

But where does Chicago land with some other questions like: trash can or garbage can? Fireflies or lightning bugs? Soda or pop or Coke?

Let’s start with where you put your trash, or garbage. Trash Can vs. Garbage Can?

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Trash Can vs. Garbage Can? (Credit: Josh Katz)

The survey found Chicago, along with the northern half of Illinois says “garbage can,” while the bottom half uses “trash can.”

What about carbonated beverages, do you use “soda,” “pop,” or “Coke?”

Now across the U.S. the answer is pretty mixed, but Chicago and most of northern Illinois, use “pop,” while the rest of the state say “soda.”

Speaking of beverages… Do you drink out of a water fountain or a drinking fountain?

Most of the state, including Chicago, use the term “water fountain,” while a small northern part and much of the nation’s West Coast use “drinking fountain.” There are also two small areas of the United States that refer to a public drinking source as the “bubbler.” Parts of Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts use the term.

For the other five questions, with terms that can be “dead giveaways” of where one is from, according to Katz, check out his article with Reader’s Digest.

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