Regionalisms, like regional foods, are everywhere. Even in our constantly connected and commercialized world, linguistic variations persist in communities around the country. There’s something heartening to me about the idea of the persistence of language idiosyncrasies in the face of so many leveling forces.

Last week, I learned a few new ones while visiting New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Speaking at the New York Public Library about my new book Apple: A Global History, a woman asked me why pomegranates are sometimes called “Chinese apples.” Beats me. I’d never heard that before! It turns out it’s a regionalism, fairly specific to the New York City/New Jersey area. It turns out the Chinese apple = pomegranate lobby even has a Facebook group devoted to it. Pomegranates are from Asia originally so that’s probably where the name originated, but that name didn’t seem to spread outside the northeast.

A few more, though, not necessarily food – or even apple – related:

  • What I call a roundabout or a traffic circle (perhaps I’m unsure myself) is a “rotary” in Massachusetts
  • Water fountains are supposedly “bubblers” in Massachusetts, just as they are in Wisconsin, though I never heard anyone reference this
  • Hero is a sandwich in New York City
  • A milkshake is a “cabinet” in Rhode Island and a frappe in Massachusetts (wish I’d had one but my desire to try things outmatches the number of meals in the day and room in my stomach)

What other food-related regionalisms do you know? Any other apple-related ones?