20 Things Southerners Can’t Understand About Northerners

Due to America’s size, each region has its own set of customs. People from the South tend to see northern cultural quirks as unusual and strange, while northerners might look at southerners with just as critical an eye.

Whether it’s tea served completely differently, or certain slang that doesn’t make sense, here are a few things southerners find strange about northerners.

Up North, it’s often difficult for Southerners to greet Northerners


For the most part, southern life is a lot more easygoing than in other parts of the country. With this relaxed attitude comes a certain kind of friendliness when greeting others, and Southerners are known for striking up conversations with just about anyone.

However, Northerners tend to shy away from speaking with strangers, meaning it can be awkward when North meets South. While a Southerner is often just trying to be friendly, a Northerner can mistake this goodwill as nosiness.

Southerners don’t like northerners’ cornbread


Traditional southern cornbread tends to be on the savory side, and is made with cornmeal, buttermilk, and either butter or bacon grease. However, northern cornbread recipes typically include sugar, and this creates quite the controversy, as according to some Southerners, “tea should be sweet, while cornbread shouldn’t!.”

In fact, in several parts of the South, a sweet cornbread would be called a cake. Who knew?

“Ma’am” and “Sir” aren’t usually heard up North

Mangrove Mike/Flickr

Though people are fairly friendly in the South, they can also be pretty formal. As a sign of respect, it’s common in the South for people to be addressed as “Ma’am” and “Sir.”

While these titles can sound a bit old-fashioned, they’re still considered polite to say by most people in the South. Meanwhile, most Northerners find these terms weird, though not offensive.

College football is a way bigger deal in the South


It’s no secret that Southern states adore college football, but not all Northern states show the same passion for it. While Northerners might enjoy various NFL teams, their love for collegiate ones isn’t nearly as strong.

College football just isn’t as big of a deal in the North, which has been a letdown for many Southerners who chose to attend school up North.

Southerners don’t get why calling someone “honey” can be rude


In the South, people often call each other pet names such as sweetie, sugar, or honey. These terms of endearment are used across multiple southern states, however, Northerners tend to view these names as condescending and overly familiar, especially if used by someone they don’t know very well.

Additionally, in many states pet names can be seen as unprofessional in the workplace. So if you like calling people cutesy nicknames, make sure to consider their comfortability first!

In the South, it’s called a buggy, not a shopping cart!


Pop quiz: what do you call those metal carts you see at grocery stores? If you answered “shopping cart,” then you likely live in the North or West. However, if you answered “buggy” then you might be living down South.

Typically Southerners don’t know what shopping carts are, and Northerners have never heard of buggies. Both groups would be confused if they took a trip to England, however, where they refer to carts as “shopping trolleys.”

Southerners miss fried food when up North

Tim Evanson/Flickr

The staples of Southern cooking include a number of various fried foods, ranging from fried chicken to catfish, okra, and chicken-fried steak, among others. However up North, fried foods aren’t offered as often or at as high of a quality.

With a lack of delicious fried foods up North, it’s no wonder Southerners miss food from home!

Southern people can’t stand northern sweet tea


In the North, people use ice to cool down their drink before adding sugar. The southern way of making iced tea is quite different- people brew the liquid, add sugar while it’s still warm, and then let it sit overnight or for hours until it becomes cold enough.

Iced tea with sugar is different from sweet tea. For one, the sugar will not dissolve in cold water and will sink to the bottom of a cup. Two, Southern iced tea is too bitter for some Northerners’ taste buds. People who travel up North might find themselves unsatisfied with their beverage choices when they stop at an iced-tea stand or restaurant because they can’t have what they’re used to back home in the South.

Southerners don’t drink the coffee of northerners


If a Southern person visited a Northern friend, they would notice some differences in how coffee is made. For example, Northerners are likely to use instant coffee instead of boiling whole beans at home- something unfamiliar for Southerners. But what will really come as a surprise for them, however, are the different methods that Northerners have for making iced coffee!

Down south, pots of hot coffee are brewed at home while iced and instant coffees are rare. However, these cultures might be shocked to find out that 50% of the world prefers instant coffee. Australians drink it 75% of the time due to their warm climate (it’s hotter down there).

Southerners can’t believe their decor has been copied up north


Distressed wood, chicken-shaped vases, milk crates–these are just some of the many elements that make up an interior design style called farmhouse. Originating from America’s southern states and remaining there to this day, it has now gained popularity in America’s northern states as well.

Part of it has to do with the popularity of the show Fixer Upper, where designer Joanna Gaines focuses on a modern farmhouse look. This design style might seem strange to Southerners who are not accustomed to living in rural communities or outside cities and suburbs.

A Southerner cannot find good Mexican or BBQ north of their home.


Because of its proximity to the Mexican border, Southern cooking is one of America’s most diverse. You can find everything from tacos and burritos to pulled pork and barbecued chicken. In contrast, the North has very few options for these tastes – at least not ones that are this good.

According to a Quora user, who used to live in the north but now lives in the south – barbecue is different depending on where you are. In Southern barbecue, pork is almost always involved, while other parts of America might involve grilling multiple types of meat rather than slow roasting them. If you’re from the south though, even the sauce could taste different to someone who’s never been there before.

Southerners believe northerners talk too fast


North and South are really different when it comes to how they speak. Northerners are much faster than Southerners at speaking; so much so that sometimes it is hard for a Southern person to understand what the Northerner is saying if he talks too fast. This frustrates both North and South people, who feel like the other side speaks too slow.

There are many linguistic differences between different accents of English, most notably the Southern accent which has slow vowels and twangs. People with this accent talk slower than those who have Northern or Western accents. Southerners don’t understand why Northerners want to speak so quickly – what’s so important that they need to do it so fast?

Southerners can’t believe that people toss bacon grease


In the South, many people try to limit fat consumption by saving bacon grease for cooking. In contrast, Northern communities typically dispose of it because they believe that it is unhealthy. However, Donald Tomlin of Garden & Gun insists that bacon grease can be considered a Southern olive oil – or at least an alternative one given its flavor and ability to cook food without adding additional oils to the dish.

Bacon grease has one purpose – and that is to hold the most delicious flavors in food. It can be found in a number of Southern dishes such as eggs, cornbread, black-eyed peas, or even biscuits. When a Southerner visits North, they find these dishes either don’t taste quite right or just aren’t comparable to what they would make themselves at home because Northerners usually dispose of the bacon grease rather than save it.

Southerners miss some restaurant chains up north


In 2019, a Redditor recalled how they felt moving from Tuscaloosa to New York City. I remember being legitimately horrified when I found out that Zaxby’s wasn’t a thing there, they wrote.Yep – most Northern people have never had the privilege of tasting Zaxby’s chicken, or many other Southern brands for that matter.

Waffle House, Bojangle’s, Whataburger, Cook Out—all of these tasty chain restaurants are unheard of in the North. When Southerners come up north for a vacation, it can be hard to find quality Southern food. And if you’re lucky enough to find it? Expect long lines and severely under-cooked meat. But there is good news too! You’ll find some amazing pizza- which just might become your new favorite food!

You could potentially miss a meal if you don’t know the true meaning of this next word.

If you are from the north, the meaning of dinner might be different for you.

Depending on what part of the United States you are in, the definition of dinner changes – which means there’s no one true and right answer to this question. In the Southern region, for example, a person might refer to an early evening meal as either supper or just dinner. For someone who lives up North though, it may be more common for them to call lunchtime their dinner time – while they would call an evening or nighttime meal simply dinner.

If you talk to someone from the North about having supper – odds are they won’t understand what you mean. If you ask someone from the South and North if they want to go out for dinner, well then chances are when it comes time to meet up in person– one of them will probably show up before the other does.

Southerners do not understand northerners’ love for what they call coke.

Depending on what part of the country you are in, Coke means something different. In the North, Coke is used as an abbreviation for Coca-Cola brand. When someone asks for a Coke, they’re asking specifically for Coca-Cola. But if you order a Coke at a restaurant in Louisiana, it’s just shorthand for any kind of cola drink (such as Pepsi)

In the North, coke is pronounced as ‘coca-cola’ while other types of drinks are referred to as ‘pop’. In contrast, Southern people find it odd for when they order coke from a Northerner – for them that would be sprite.

Some southerners believe that northerners are always in a hurry.

To a northerner, southerners seem slow. After all, life is slower down south; there’s less traffic, fewer stores and restaurants- so people who live down here just don’t see why it would be necessary to do anything quickly or efficiently when one has plenty of time. To us southerners, up north seems like you’re wasting your time rushing around without any purpose at all – which only makes us feel even more relaxed!

On the other hand, many Northerners find themselves getting frustrated with how slowly Southern life moves. Most of them think that people in the South never move fast enough even if they’re just trying to take care of things like grocery shopping or paying bills. For those who live south of the Mason-Dixon line, hurrying is always seen as abnormal – some might even call it lazy – while others don’t mind waiting because they understand why Southerners do what they do and when they do it.

Up next: A Southern dish that many Northerners refuse to try.

Southern people wish that northerners would try catfish

Catfish is one of the most popular foods in Southern areas. Fried chuckleheads or mudcats are often found at restaurants reminding some residents of their childhood. However, many Northerners have never eaten catfish before. Those who have seen it find it unappetizing and think about what it might taste like which can be a deterrent from tasting this type of fish for themselves.

In the North, most types of catfish cannot be eaten due to health reasons or because they taste bad. Meanwhile, the largest producers of U.S. catfish are Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas; whereas Southern Americans say that Northerners haven’t had an opportunity to try it yet since they’re missing out on what could be a childhood favorite!

Southerners don’t appreciate being mocked for the way they speak

In 2020, a Quora user asked what northerners in the United States dislike about southerners. One person from southern Virginia said that northerners– even those who are living just north of them– tend to make fun of their accent.

They wrote, I have never had a fellow southerner make fun of my accent. They continued by saying they’ve been to cities up north and experienced some pretty terrible treatment from the locals due to their southern drawl. Despite this though, they noted that even northerners who don’t sound like them can be kind people too.

Southerners think northerners sound too harsh

In 2018, an American asked Redditors ‘Southerners, what grumps you about Northerners?’ One Redditor responded ‘Northerners tend to be a bit more brash in social interactions than I am expecting.’ Should this make them rude? No! It’s just that Northern manners differ from Southern ones.

One Northerner explained how when visiting a Charleston restaurant, he had said Lemme get, instead of asking for what he wanted. While he was unaware of his own actions at the time and meant no offense, this was not received well by the waiter. However, if southerners ever visit the North, they may find themselves just as surprised to hear northerners talking this way.

Southerners typically wait in line instead of on line

There is a regional difference in how people refer to being patient while standing in line. Northerners say they are waiting on line, while Southerners generally use phrases such as I’m just going through the motions or I’m holding my spot.

A lot of Southern Americans are unaware of what an online wait list entails, because they’ll say they’re waiting in line to sign up for something or the other. Social media user @catesish sums it up succinctly in his tweet saying, You stand in line and then go onto a computer!

Southerners want to know why northerners don’t use koozies

Southerners are known for loving their koozies. It’s a cushiony foam drink holder that keeps cans and bottles cold even during the hottest days of the year.

People love having koozies made for weddings and other special occasions because of how well they work at keeping cold drinks cold. As Twitter user @MustBeTheMeds tweeted, ‘house koozies at the bar? yup im back in the south’.

Southerners are appalled that northerners don’t know what proper potato salad is.

Potato salad is one of those dishes that can make people pick sides. People will either prefer a more vinegar-based potato salad or they’ll want it based in mayonnaise.

Southerners like this dish most of all; they will even put in extra mustard just for added taste. Northerners on the other hand are not so pleased with the vinegar soaked mixture called ‘potato salad’. Still, there are some people who don’t mind whether they eat it one way or another which can be rather odd to observe.

Southerners think northerners should know what okra is

Many Northern people don’t even know what okra is. (Hint: It’s a vegetable). However, southerners are accustomed to eating this green plant every day of the week. These Southerners especially love it when they fry up some Okra, as seen below.

There’s even an annual Okra Strut Festival held every year in the town of Irmo, South Carolina – just to celebrate this popular vegetable.

Southerners remember the sweet taste of cheerwine

Though it has an unusual sounding name, many Southerners can’t resist the allure of Cheerwine – a popular cherry-flavored soda drink from North Carolina. It goes especially well with barbecue.

Despite being known as a wine-flavored drink, Cheerwine does not actually contain any alcohol. Amy Rogers at NPR says Cheerwine has the same relation to wine that ginger ale has to ale: that is, it’s roughly the same color.

People from the south believe northerners’ fried chicken is too bland

How could there be regional differences in fried chicken? If you want to know what makes it unique, just ask a Southerner. Traditionally, Southern-style fried chickens are made by first soaking them in buttermilk and then dredging them through seasoned flour before frying them up.

In the North, a fried and seasoned chicken is typically made by first dipping the pieces into eggs followed by coating them with cracker crumbs and flour.

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