Buy our warmed-over grande supremo soda

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Psycholinguist Craig Chambers sent me this photo that he snapped recently inside a large pharmacy chain store (you know the kind, where you can avail yourself of all your better-living-through-chemicals products under one roof, whether it's anti-depressant, cough syrup, your favorite crunchy snack of Olestra and yellow dye #6, jet printer ink, or the entire range of household plastics.)

Along with the photo, Craig wrote:

If you ever find yourself rubbing shoulders with an executive from Shoppers Drug Mart, you might tell them that they could use your expertise in

(a) language for in-store advertising
(b) scalar adjectives
(c) both of the above

Since I haven't found myself swishing martinis this week with any Shoppers Drug Mart execs, I thought I'd oblige by posting some free pointers on Language Log—perhaps a search engine will lead the pharmacy folks here for one-stop-shopping language advice, guaranteed to enhance life even more splendidly than a basketful of FDA-approved pharmaceutical products. (Disclaimer: Language Log's advice is not FDA-approved.)

First, here goes for advice pertaining to my expertise on language for in-store advertising: When directing people to your products, it's generally wise to avoid arousing the thought of unpleasant sensations. For instance, customers are unlikely to buy a product if it's referred to in a way that activates noxious sensory memories e.g. of picnic supplies left out too long in the sun, or the smell of a teenager's socks engaged in unsavory activities with a week-old ham sandwich at the bottom of a backpack. Generally, pleasant sensations and associations result in better sales figures.

With that out of the way, we can now turn to a discussion of scalar adjectives, which will provide some explanation as to why the sign should evoke thoughts of unpleasant sensations in the first place.

Scalar adjectives are shifty-eyed creatures that refuse to be pinned down on meaning. A nice uncomplicated non-scalar adjective like striped or red can hitch onto a noun with the resulting phrase denoting the set of objects that have both of the properties denoted by the adjective and the noun separately. You know if something is a striped shirt by checking to see if it's a shirt and if it's striped. You can assess these properties independently. You don't have to see if it's striped before you ascertain it's a shirt, as evident by the fact that a man hastily stuffed into a dark closet with his clothes in a bundle upon the unexpected early return of a husband can still manage to emerge from the closet fully-garbed. Similarly, you can identify a bolt of fabric and confirm that it's striped regardless of whether it's eventually made into a shirt or car seat covers. Adjectives liked striped have a pretty clear and stable personal identity (with some wiggle room of course which I won't go into here).

But scalar adjectives like warm or tall are trickier. Is something "tall" if it's 37 centimeters in height? Three meters? Can't tell. Depends on whether we're talking about a cup of coffee or a tree—or, for that matter, a tree in a lush South American rainforest or a tree growing just below treeline in the Alaskan wilderness. Nor can you tell whether 12 degrees centigrade is "warm". I can assure you that it is, if it's the temperature of a mountain lake at 2400 meters of elevation, even in July.

Scalar adjectives, like teenagers, tend to change their identities depending on who's hanging around. The best we can do in fixing values for tall or warm is something really murky like this:

The word "tall" (or "warm") corresponds to a range of values for height (or temperature) that are greater than the norm for some relevant, contextually-salient comparison class.

That's about as much commitment as you get. Which of course, is why people can engage in debates over the much-spoofed Starbucks coffee nomenclature, and argue about whether it's appropriate to call a 12-ounce cup of coffee "tall" if it's the smallest one they're selling (or at least, the smallest one on the menu; one can buy a "short" coffee at Starbucks, but it's a bit like the off-menu items at a Chinese restaurant—cheerfully provided when ordered, but only the regulars are likely to know they can).

The answer to the Starbucks question is that it depends on what you're taking as your "contextually salient comparison class", as evident in the following discussion, dredged up from some of Language Log's dustier files ("Latte Lingo: Raising a pint at Starbucks", 11/30/2004):

In that post, Mark Liberman noted the following complaints about Starbucks-style coffee sizing registered by humorist Dave Barry (aka Mister Language Person).

Recently, at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Death March, Mister Language Person noticed that a Starbuck's competitor, Seattle's Best Coffee (which also uses "Tall" for small and "Grande" for medium) is calling ITS large cup size — get ready — "Grande Supremo." Yes. And as Mister Language Person watched in horror, many customers — seemingly intelligent, briefcase-toting adults — actually used this term, as in, "I'll take a Grande Supremo."

Listen, people: You should never, ever have to utter the words "Grande Supremo" unless you are addressing a tribal warlord who is holding you captive and threatening to burn you at the stake. JUST SAY YOU WANT A LARGE COFFEE, PEOPLE. Because if we let the coffee people get away with this, they're not going to stop, and some day, just to get a lousy cup of coffee, you'll hear yourself saying, "I'll have a Mega Grandissimaximo Giganto de Humongo-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong decaf." And when THAT happens, people, the terrorists will have won.

To which our own Mark Liberman responded with some sympathy, but pointed out that actually, the Starbucks terminology is not exactly wrong:

Starbucks is right, in a sense. I've established that asking for a "small coffee" gets you the 12-ounce size; "medium" or "medium-sized" gets you 16 ounces; and "large" gets you a 20 ounce cup. However, in absolute rather than relative terms, this is nuts. A "cup" is technically 8 ounces, and in the case of coffee, a nominal "cup" seems to be 6 ounces, as indicated by the calibrations on the water reservoirs of coffee makers, and implied by Starbuck's own brewing instructions: "We recommend two tablespoons of ground coffee for each six ounces of water." And 16 ounces is otherwise known as one pint — so we seem to have established that a "medium-sized coffee" is a pint of coffee, a concept that might have given even Balzac pause. When you think of it, "grande" is a more descriptive term.

The point is that if we take the comparison class to include just those sizes of coffee that appear on the Starbuck's menu board, then the choice of scalar adjectives seems insane. But if we take the comparison class to be the usual serving size of coffee found out in the real (non-Starbucks) world, it's actually apt. Presumably, the Starbucks reasoning is that the customer will invoke the appropriate real-world comparison class, and feel better about shelling out almost two bucks for the smallest cup of coffee in the store.

(By that logic, in the interests of heightening comparisons to normal serving sizes of coffee and thereby alerting customers to the potential health hazards of gulping down Starbuck's more recent 30-oz caffeine superbinge the "Trenta", perhaps that beverage monstrosity should be called a Mega Grandissimaximo Giganto de Humongo-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong.)

But what's up with "warm soda?" A trip to my local Shoppers Drug Mart store revealed that "warm soda" is, as you might have guessed, soda sitting on a shelf at room temperature. What comparison class could have motivated that choice of unappealing adjective? I suppose you could think of the normal temperature of soda as the stuff that comes out of your fridge, ready to drink. In which case, room temperature soda would indeed be "warm". And certainly, if I were offering a guest a glass of soda that came straight out of my cupboard, I'd probably be remiss in not warning him that it's "warm". But in the context of shopping for soda, this hardly seems right. To take a similar example, white wine is normally drunk chilled, while red wine is not, but this doesn't seem to have resulted in the wine sold on store shelves being marked as "red wine" on the one hand, but as "warm white wine" the next aisle over. If the store does sell its white wine chilled, there'll usually be a sign announcing it as "cold wine", sensibly marked in relation to the usual temperature of wine sold in a store as opposed to wine served in a glass.

So Shoppers Drug Mart seems to be barking up the wrong comparison class, which of course, suggests that customers will be tempted to interpret the sign as referring to soda that just came off a truck whose refrigeration broke down while stuck in highway traffic for thirteen hours.

Or as Craig put it, the store's choice of signage "just leaves me cold".


  1. Kathleen said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    This is very interesting. Although "warm soda" sounds unappealing, there may be a practical benefit to the sign.

    If I were in an unfamiliar store and saw a sign that said "soda" that led me to drinks sitting at room temperature, I might be disappointed and give up. ("Oh. They only have warm stuff.") If, on the other hand, I saw a sign that said "warm soda," I would think "Ah! There is cold soda around here somewhere! I need to keep looking."

    [(js) Indeed! That thought occurred to me—and sure enough, the store does sell the chilled variety of soda, at a much larger markup of course (though in smaller containers, so if you're shopping for a large party, you're still stuck with the warm kind). It is in fact possible that such benefits outweigh the disadvantages of using the phrase. Next time I have cocktails with the Shoppers Drug Mart people, I'll inquire about the effects of the signage on their sales of warm/cold soda.]

  2. Bobbie said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

    Another scalar adjective (to which I vibrate as I age) is "elderly." I cringe when someone much younger than I am is described as elderly. Somehow I believe that elderly people are at least 10-15 years older than I am — and will always be much older than I am! (I'll admit to being almost 70.)

  3. GeorgeW said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

    I want to say about this post, 'well done and entertaining.' But that might raise the question, relative to what?

  4. Jonathan Badger said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

    Would "non-chilled soda" be a more appealing term for the concept? It also suggests that there is chilled soda around somewhere, as does "warm soda"

  5. bork said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

    This is not in a single store. It is chainwide at Shoppers. I guarantee it was a carefully thought-out decision about the use of language.

    Their presumption (and I suspect it is grounded in some consumer research) must be that more customers looking at the 'warm' soda will ultimately choose between chilled and unchilled beverages, rather than deciding between warm soda versus no soda.

  6. GeorgeW said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    @bork: I like the "unchilled" better than 'warm.' My decision would be drink now (chilled) or take home and chill before drinking. Unchilled does not "activate noxious sensory memories" for me like warm soda.

  7. bfwebster said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    There's an old business put-down that says, "[Such-and-such a firm] is so bad at marketing that if they were running KFC, they'd advertise their product as 'hot dead-chicken parts'."

  8. Uly said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Here in NYC, stores that sell both "warm soda" and the other type do typically use the phrase "warm soda". As noted, if it's not refrigerated it costs less, you pay extra for the privilege of it being cold already.

    But yeah, it might make more sense to label the stuff in the fridges as "chilled" and call the other stuff just plain "soda" instead. After all, more words = more service, right?

  9. Mr Fnortner said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    But I am very curious about that "crunchy snack of Olestra and yellow dye #6, jet printer ink, or the entire range of household plastics"

  10. Chad Nilep said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

    @Mr Fortner

    Mmm, crunch household plastic.
    /Homer Simpson

  11. Dan M. said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 10:58 pm


    My brother once advocated that he and I go to the nearby street fair for "doughy substrate for hot grease and sugar" (a kin of funnel cakes called elephant ears in these parts). I found this eminently appealing.

    Then again, we went to the same engineering college together, and think chemistry is awesome. I think I'd also go for "hot dead chicken parts".

    [(js) In Rhode Island, funnel cakes are often sold under the name "fried dough" —not much better than "hot dead-chicken parts", though clearly, you are their dream target audience.]

  12. SlideSF said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 1:40 am

  13. Adam said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:47 am

    I guess "Non-refrigerated soda" is harder to fit on the sign.

  14. Adam said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:49 am

    With regard to Barry vs Liberman on coffee terrorists, Ray Magliozzi advocated that everyone should protest by demanding in Starbucks, "Just gimme 3 bucks worth of coffee!"

  15. UK Lawyer said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:50 am

    Wow, very American. Warm beer anyone?

  16. Duncan said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 3:46 am


    I guess I'm a bit of a Dr. Pepper fan, as you'll see with this post.

    The Dr. Pepper BIBs (bag-in-boxs, how post-mix soda is generally shipped and sold, 5 gallon standard,, altho 3 gallon for frozen drink syrup is also common) at least used to sometimes ship with hot Dr. Pepper post-mix instructions as well as the more common carbonated post-mix instructions.

    I've lived at various locations in the northwest/southwest/mountain-west/midwest but never the Eastern US, so can't say for sure, but I've been lead to believe that hot Dr. Pepper is served commercially in certain typically rural eastern communities during cold weather. Vermont and New Hampshire stick in my head, tho I fully expect posts from residents saying they've never seen such. Perhaps it's simply a myth.

    Regardless, I've actually tried it. As a hot sweetened beverage on a cold day, it's not actually that bad.

    Oh, and talking about coffee, for an extra dose of caffeine when it's just too hot for coffee (iced coffee's an idea but can be expensive), cup full of ice, spoon some instant coffee crystals on top, pour in some creamer if desired, and fill with Dr. Pepper. As the Dr. Pepper filters down thru the ice it dissolves the instant coffee with the result being a really quite tasty extra pickup. It seems that the carbonation releases the caffeine as well, which makes sense given that carbonation is one of the "natural" decaffeinating processes used for "naturally decaffeinated" coffee. So if you drink it right away, there's an extra pickup, tho the effect mellows considerably if you let it sit for say half an hour or even 15 minutes. I've given myself a caffeine rush headache a few times by overdoing the instant coffee and drinking it too fast, so be careful with it. =:^)


  17. John F said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 4:02 am

    A supermarket in the UK was in the media for selling 'Ambient Sausage Rolls'. I'm disappointed the Plain English Campaign was so silly about the whole thing. If they're not heated and not chilled, they're ambient. Perfectly plain to me.

  18. maidhc said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 4:25 am

    Oh, I would so buy an ambient sausage roll!

    In the US most drugstores sell beverages, some chilled and some not. If you're going to take it home and drink it later, it doesn't matter whether it's cold when you buy it—you're going to take it home and put it in the fridge.

    If you want to drink it right away you can buy it from the cooler, but typically the selection is smaller.

    Around here the price is the same.

    The way they do it here is that the warm soda is labelled "soda" and the chilled stuff is labelled "cold drinks" or something like that.

    Typically the stuff that is cold is in individual units but the warm stuff is in bulk packages. So if you get a sandwich from the deli (in a supermarket, most drugstores don't have delis), you can grab a single serving drink and you're set.

    Maybe the price per ounce for one bottle is higher than the bulk price but not so much that you would complain about it.

  19. Martin B said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 5:52 am

    If "unchilled" or "unrefrigerated" won't fit on the sign won't fit, surely "uncold" would. (Or is "cold" still too scalar…)

  20. richard howland-bolton said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 6:16 am

    I would have thought that, even in a chain of drug stores, most people would figure out the likely temperature of soda in an aisle with no refrigerator—well eventually.

    @UK Lawyer: of course back in the day, Great British Beer was only served 'warm' if the comparison class was USian beer. Cellar temperature was usually noticeably below room ambient even in Britain. Though IIRR the Stoven Cherry Tree was often an exception.

  21. Toma said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    @Jonathan Badger-
    "non-chilled soda" makes me think of George Orwell and 1984. Double Plus Nongood and all that stuff.

  22. The Stupidest Beverage Aisle Sign That Leaves Us Rather Cold | said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 9:17 am

    […]  language log This entry was posted in stupid signs and tagged stores. Bookmark the permalink. ← The Stupidest "Beijing, We Have a Problem" Boat Launch […]

  23. Dennis Paul Himes said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    For me, on the other hand, "warm soda" doesn't "arous[e] the thought of unpleasant sensations" at all, probably because I sometimes drink it that way.

  24. Mark Flowers said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 11:15 am

    My three-year-old daughter is convinced that 'warm' means something like 'the correct temperature at which to consume'–so she'll tell me that her dinner is too hot, and she's waiting for it to 'warm up' or that her ice cream is delicious because it is warm.

  25. Rodger C said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    While we're on that thread, my father used to ask me, "Are you warm?" and I'd reply, "You mean warm enough or too warm?" and he wouldn't see the point of the question. I think he must have been one of the many people whose comfort zones are about 15F cooler than mine.

  26. Warm Soda / Warm Beer « said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    […] This post on Language Log about a sign for warm soda reminded me of this photo. But what's up with "warm soda?" A trip to my local Shoppers Drug Mart store revealed that "warm soda" is, as you might have guessed, soda sitting on a shelf at room temperature. What comparison class could have motivated that choice of unappealing adjective? I suppose you could think of the normal temperature of soda as the stuff that comes out of your fridge, ready to drink. In which case, room temperature soda would indeed be "warm". And certainly, if I were offering a guest a glass of soda that came straight out of my cupboard, I'd probably be remiss in not warning him that it's "warm". […]

  27. languageandhumor said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    Having lived in Japan, where convenience stores have heated canned-coffee drink sections, I thought there was some kind of new warm soda.

    I'd like to mention the "cold cereal" section. It's not cold. it's just as much room-temperature as the "non-cold" oatmeal. There's just an expectation that you will heat the oatmeal at a later date (and perhaps that you will put cold, refrigerated milk on the regular cereal).

  28. Catherine said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

    But isn't "cold or warm" what people usually say, when deciding how to buy packaged drinks? I do agree that it sounds a little unappetizing, but if I were saying, "Buy the beer for the party warm because I don't want it in the refrigerator until then," I don't think I'd use "non-chilled" or anything other than "warm." Would a sign that says Soda (Warm) would have less negative connotation?

  29. Coleman Glenn said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    Off-topic, but I find it curious that Shoppers Drug Mart, a Canadian chain, has a sign for "soda" rather than "pop." As far as I can tell (from experience and a minimal amount of internet research), Canadians almost universally refer to carbonated soft drinks as "pop" rather than "soda"; but maybe "soda" carries more weight as a sort of "official" name for the drinks? Not sure about that. Next time I'm in a Shoppers, I'll be sure to look out for their signage. Any idea where this particular picture was taken?

  30. Ellen K. said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    For me (and I suspect many others), room temperature is the default for buying soda, and cold for drinking. So "warm soda" implies drinking it at room temperature (or warmer), not just buying it at that temperature. (The location of the sign implies warm = room temperature.)

    As for cold cereal, that would be a non-scaler usage, seems to me, since it's a type of cereal, without regards to the actual temperature of the cereal. (Rather, "hot cereal" and "cold cereal" come from the normal temperature for each type of cereal, not the actual temperature.)

  31. Theodore said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    Boy did I come late to a great show with this one…

    As an engineer taking a Language-log break from the design of a diesel-fueled standby generator system, I will suggest (similar to maidhc) the most suitable terms for the two types of soda are "Bulk tanks" and "Day Tanks". But seriously, folks "bulk soda" implies a deal and avoids the negative associations of a lukewarm drink. At least they didn't call it "uncool soda."

    As for the "ambient sausages", unless you call them "ambient-temperature sausages" I imagine them like some kind of like background radiation.

  32. Ray Girvan said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    @ John F If they're not heated and not chilled, they're ambient

    Not exactly. Neither the papers and Plain English Campaign grasped the full story. While it is an error of register to use a word that isn't widely understood, in this circumstance "ambient" isn't just a fancy way of saying "at room temperature".

    "Ambient food" is food industry jargon for food capable of extended storage at room temperature – in this case, sausage rolls that keep far longer unrefrigerated than a normal sausage roll would.

  33. GeorgeW said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    Regarding the 'pop' vs. 'soda' divide. I grew up (Am. South) with 'cold drinks' meaning non-alcoholic, carbonated beverages. One could buy an unchilled 'cold drink' at a store and chill it later for drinking.

    As for description, we have 'beer' and 'cold beer,' meaning ready to drink.

  34. eeden said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    Makes me think about how you can't buy a "small" portion of anything. There's only "regular" or "large". Sometimes you do just want "small", but you're made to feel either inadequate or ripped off.

  35. Viseguy said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

    Are "non-refrigerated" and "non-chilled" different from "unrefrigerated" and "unchilled"? Should Seven Up have called itself the "Non-cola"?

  36. Janice Byer said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

    I'm not too proud not to have been too proud to order "biggie fries" at my local fat food franchise, back in the day, when that was what the menu said. What compromised my dignity was the server always read back to me "one medium fry".

  37. Daniel Barkalow said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    If the Car Talk guys were saying it, I think "a trenta coffee" would sound like something you could hide soldiers in, and more likely to be poured by a construction crew than a barista. It doesn't sound small, or even portable, to me.

  38. Rose said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    Surely any activities that a teenager's socks and a ham sandwich engaged in would, in fact, be savory…

  39. Alen said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    When one of the big UK supermarkets opened a branch near me I was delighted to see an aisle marked 'little treats'. Images of olives, grilled artichokes and so on filled my head. I was disappointed, however, to find that the aisle sold only sweets! Can I claim the usual prize of a year's free subscription to LL for the first sighting of a scalar noun?

    [(js) Only if you can make a case for why the noun should be treated as scalar, and not simply vague. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to pay the same price for your LL subscription as everyone else.]

  40. Gpa said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    Why not call it "warm soft drinks". In the U.S., "soft drinks" is sometimes in place of "soda". Soda = carbonated drinks, which is called "pop" in Britain and Canada. In the 1950s up to maybe the 1970's, it was called "soda pop" in the U.S.

    Since it's from Canada, I think the use of "soda" is used to attract Americans to shop there? The use of "warm" is well… "hot" or is it "c00l" or should that be "kewl" like some kids type nowadays?

    Some supermarkets in the U.S. have a small sign which says "We now have cold beer." I always thought, "What did they before all this? Warm beer, of course!".

  41. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    Makes me think of "extra cold" Guinness, as opposed to "regular".

  42. octopod said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    I rather like the surreal mental image of "ambient sausage rolls". Just sort of…floating around, I guess?

  43. Sevly said,

    October 15, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

    @Coleman Glenn @Gpa

    The use of 'soda' isn't all that odd at all for Canada, at least not where I live. While it certainly isn't the term that people use in casual conversation – I say 'pop' myself darn near invariably – Coleman Glenn is right on the money when he guesses that it has to do with the perceived officialness of the term: 'soda' is used for the exact same reason that the recently renovated McDonald's in my neighbourhood has a sign saying 'beverages' over the new fountain drink machine despite the fact that no customer is going to ask for "a large-size beverage with my fries, please."

  44. Dan Hemmens said,

    October 16, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    As others have pointed out, it's possible that the "warm soda" label is deliberately slightly offputting in order to encourage people to pay extra for chilled.

  45. speedwell said,

    October 17, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    I've lived in Georgia and now live in Texas. I've heard conversations like the following:

    "Y'all want to pick up some Cokes?" "Yeah, let's get a 2-liter a Dr. Pepper and a 7-up and some Pepsi, and y'all want some cold Cokes too?" "Sure, grab me a bottled water."

  46. Neil Tarrant said,

    October 17, 2011 @ 2:48 pm


    "Soda = carbonated drinks, which is called "pop" in Britain and Canada."

    It's not really commonly called 'pop' in the UK anymore. I'd regard the usage as being somewhat archaic, or at least associated with the generation before mine (I'm 27 for reference). Possibly it's also a regional variation. In any case, the term is certainly not in general usage on supermarket signage.

    That said, I can't think what I could call Soda/Pop. I think I'd probably go for 'soft drinks', or 'fizzy drinks' if the carbonation were the part which was required to be emphasised.

    I haven't noted anyone link above: – Generic Names for Soft Drinks across the USA – apparently Pop, Coke and Soda are the big three.

  47. Odile said,

    October 18, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    This reminds me of two of my favorite store signs, Ethnic Hair Care (on the aisle signs at Duane Reade) and Old Ginger (on signs in Chinese supermarkets, probably not in the least off-putting to native Chinese speakers). I find the frankness—and the obvious inattention to connotations (pace those who think Shoppers is trying to steer people toward costlier chilled soda)—refreshing.

  48. Kate G said,

    October 19, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    I knew it was a Shoppers Drug immediately — I suppose I recognized the font — but was puzzled by "soda". We all say pop here in Southern Ontario, and the signs generally say Soft Drinks. The warm thing was trivial, it was to let you know there was a fridge somewhere else with cold stuff. Can you say where this particular SDM was? I am guessing west of Thunder Bay.

  49. Janice Byer said,

    October 19, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

    Neil, thanks for your linked map, which helps me understand where certain of others' comments above likely came from, even as it introduces mystery anew with its uncanny likeness to another US map:

    I wonder if "pop" has German-American origins?

    BTW, "pop" sounds dated to me, too, but then your link shows I emigrated from Pop Country to Soda Territory before you were born.

  50. Rhino1515 said,

    October 22, 2011 @ 4:02 am

    I can only agree that "warm soda" conjures up some negative associations in my mind. Is there any chance this construction is specifically Canadian?

    @Janice: I'm from the Midwest originally, although I haven't lived there in quite a while. "Pop" now sounds a bit foreign and old-fashioned to me, but whenever I travel back to the middle section of the country I realize it is alive and well and not old-fashioned to regular users of the word. Also, I don't believe there is any German connection. Limo, Limonade, Cola are common words that come to mind. Nothing similar to Pop is used there as far as I recall.

    Lastly, I'm not sure when Dave Barry wrote his coffee tirade, but today Seattle's Best is a wholly-owned subsidiary of . . . Starbucks.

  51. mara said,

    October 22, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    Soon after I moved to southern Indiana, after living in Wisconsin my whole life, somebody at work complained that the soda she just got out of the vending machine was "hot." I was dumbfounded. What possible mechanism in the machine could have acutally *heated* the soda?

    It took a couple of minutes of conversation for me to realize she meant to say it was warmer than it should have been. I would have called it "warm" in those circumstances.

  52. Wheatstone said,

    November 1, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

    There's a grocery store near me with a professionally-made sign over one aisle proclaiming the presence of "Hot Beer." I'm assuming this is similarly to distinguish room-temperature beverages from chilled.

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    January 22, 2012 @ 11:09 am

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  54. Alan said,

    January 22, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    I don't really have a problem with warm soda – don't you guys heat up lemonade in the microwave as a cure-all? Hot lemonade, splash of vodka or whiskey and the cold's as good as gone.

    Agree that "ambient" would have been better.

  55. Adam 2 said,

    February 8, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

    I think the purpose of making warm soda sound unappealing is to encourage the purchase of cold soda with presumably higher profit margins.

    Sorry for the lack of linguistic content.

  56. pinoy tech blog said,

    March 4, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

    Non-refrigerated soda would be the better term, but I think warm soda would certainly suit the characters, as it would be longer it it was the latter. Though just a guess.

  57. gdgfdgf said,

    December 1, 2012 @ 3:51 am

    I don't really have a problem with warm soda – don't you guys heat up lemonade in the microwave as a cure-all? Hot lemonade, splash of vodka or whiskey and the cold's as good as gone.

    Agree that "ambient" would have been better

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