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Slang for Food: A Brief Guide to Food Slang

Food and language are two defining traits of a state's culture. That's why it's no surprise that there is different slang for food across the 50 states in the US. It can be exciting to learn how food slang differs from your state over to the next one.

When running your own food business, you'll encounter customers from all cultures and walks of life. Food should help people connect, so it helps to learn the different food slang. Here are some of the most common American slang words for food.

A Glass of Sparkling Water or Seltzer Water?

Many eateries serve carbonated water to their customers. However, carbonated drinks come in different kinds, and many people interchange the terms.

In some areas, they call it sparkling water. On the other end, some call it seltzer water. Nothing is right or wrong because these drinks are not the same based on their content.

Sparkling water contains minerals. On the other hand, seltzer water is mineral-free. In addition, the former creates a salty and tangy taste, while the latter tastes like plain water.

Is It Soda or Pop?

Soda and pop are two of the most debated slang words for food in the US. In the end, using "pop" or "soda" depends on one’s location.

People who often use soda are from the East Coast, California, or surrounding areas. If you refer to the carbonated drink as pop, there’s a high chance you live in the Midwest or Great Plains.

Here’s a fun fact! Some people across the globe describe carbonated beverages as soft drinks. Most eateries serve carbonated beverages cold in a cup or glass.

Sub vs. Hero vs. Hoagie

Subway is one of the most popular and recognizable fast-food chains if you want a quick bite to eat. Many people begin calling the long sandwich a Sub, which is short for a submarine sandwich. It’s no surprise considering the words serve as a visual representation of the food.

Some sandwich shops will also serve subs with a side of potato chips or salad.

Although sub is perfect to describe the long sandwich, some people use a different term. For instance, New Yorkers call it a Hero because of its size. For them, it takes a hero to eat and finish a submarine sandwich.

In Philadelphia, they call it the Hoagie, which is a shorter term for Hog Island's world-famous Hog Island sandwich.

A Side of Crisps or Chips?

Although crisps and chips exist in the American-English and British-English languages, their definitions are different.

In the US, people use Potato Chips to describe thin-sliced fried potatoes. Most eateries serve this food cold. The wedged fried potatoes served hot are called French Fries.

For Americans, a Crisp is a fruit dessert with sweet crumb toppings. British-English speakers use chips to describe the thick potato wedges. Then, they use the term fries to refer to thin-stripped potatoes.

Pancakes? Flapjacks? What About Waffles?

Who doesn't love a classic breakfast item? A pancake is a staple on every American’s breakfast table.

Although most people use the term pancake, many names popped up to describe it. It includes flapjacks, hotcakes, and hoe cakes.

People from the South use the term flapjacks. The flap comes from the flip, while the origin of the other half remains a mystery. When you visit the United Kingdom, this term becomes a different food.

Instead of the classic pancake mix, a British flapjack consists of rolled oats, brown sugar, and butter.

Get Me a Bag or Sack

Buying in bulk is most common in the food-serving industry.

However, some people interchange bag and sack. Although they represent a large number of items, these terms differ from each other. So, what is the difference between a bag and a sack?

The answer is the size and weight! When it comes to these characteristics, a sack carries more than a bag.

Do You Want This for Take-Out or Carry-Out?

Do you know what a carry-out means in a fast-food restaurant? As the name suggests, the term refers to carrying your order out of the eatery. Like a take-out, you bring and eat your food outside the diner.

For a clear description, a take-out or carry-out refers to prepared-packed food. This is often placed in secure packing with disposable cutlery. When you opt for this service, you mean to consume your food away from its place of sale.

Although they are simple food slang, some people are unaware of the term "carry-out."

In the US, most individuals use the term take-out. However, Midwest citizens refer to this packed food as carry-out. If you live on the East Coast, you use take-out or carry-out.

Get a Refreshing Malt or Milkshake

There's nothing better than sipping on a sweet, icy drink with a big straw in the summer. Having a malt or a milkshake can keep you cool for the day. However, do you know the difference between these cold-sweet drinks?

Malt and milkshakes use the same ingredients. They have milk, ice cream, and various flavorings.

The difference comes down to the malted milk powder in a malt. This ingredient gives the drink a toastier, richer taste and thicker consistency. Without it, your drink becomes a regular milkshake.

À la Carte or À la Mode?

Adding Gallicism to your menu, À la Carte and À la Mode are slang words for food. The former translates to "on the card," and the latter relates to trends and fashion. In a food-service context, how do these terms differ?

À la Carte allows an individual to choose items from a set meal. This food service gives customers the freedom to personalize their dining experience. For instance, you can pick the grilled haddock from a fish platter without taking the other foods.

On the other hand, À la mode refers to adding a blob of something on top of the other. The best example is putting a scoop of ice cream on top of a pie. Further, it allows you to offer menu customization and provide desserts with a sweet blob on top.

Discovering Different Slang for Food

With the diverse culture in the US, it’s no surprise that food names differ from one place to another. However, this makes serving food challenging when tourists flock. Using slang for food can help you better connect with your customers and avoid confusion.

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