The Getaway
Things About Northerners That Southerners Don't Get

When you head south of the old Mason-Dixon line, everything slows down and relaxes. In the south, people like their iced tea ultra sweet, and you'll see folks toting sweater with them even at the height of summer because they know the air conditioning will be turned up full blast the minute they step inside.

But the reverse is true, too. There are plenty of peculiarities about northerners that those from the south just can't figure out. Take a look at these things that Americans from the South find just a bit strange about their northern neighbors.


01 Those northerners just won't say "hi"

People using public transportation for commuting and transport from one place to another within the city Drazen_/ Getty Images

In the south, people will talk to anyone. That woman waiting for the bus who looks like she's had quite a day. That man in line to buy a pack of paper towels and a pint of bourbon. They'll have a warm, fulfilling chat with complete strangers — and the strangers will chat right back. Up north, that behavior gets a cold shoulder. Those northerners don't seem to recognize friendliness when they see it.


02 Hey, honey, tell me what you're thinking

Cheerful friends at party in loft apartment, happiness, relaxation 10'000 Hours/ Getty Images

"Honey" is an all-around term of endearment in the south. Southerners will call a complete stranger "honey," not to mention the people they already know and love. But in the north, people look at you funny when you call them "honey." They seem to find the endearment odd or even insulting. At some companies, you might even get a call from the human resources department if you start calling your co-workers "honey." And that's what's odd, isn't it, honey?


03 You call that fried food?

Soul food 3 Shafeeq Muhammad/ Getty Images

Sure, you can get fried chicken up north. But it is not the same as real southern fried chicken. And don't even ask for other mouth-watering southern fried specialties such as fried okra or fried catfish. If you ask for chicken-fried steak, you're likely to get a quizzical look, or they may even think you're asking for actual chicken. I guess those northerners are too busy eating their quinoa and kale to begin to understand what they're missing.


04 You pay how much for your apartment?

House/flat for rent sign Peter Dazeley/ Getty Images

At home, you might have lived in a spacious home with a separate dining room, plenty of shade trees, and a front porch that could hold all your friends. Lower your expectations if you're heading north. In many northern cities, the monthly rent that got you a leisurely, comfortable lifestyle will only get you one or two tiny rooms with windows that look into a brick wall (or someone else's bathroom — ew!). You may start to wonder why your northern friends are putting up with all this crowding.


05 Everyone talks too fast

Young woman in asking for direction a local woman martin-dm/ Getty Images

Northerners sometimes may complain about southern accents, stating that they can't understand what southerners are saying through their drawl. But do those northern folks even realize how fast they talk? Maybe there's a secret prize for squeezing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of time — or maybe they want to get their words out before they get interrupted. But wow, it can be hard to understand what they're saying when they're talking easily twice as fast as a mouth should have to work.


06 Sweet tea should be sweet

Iced peach tea in jug merc67./ Getty Images

Here's how you make sweet tea. You steep the tea, and while it's hot, you stir in that sugar (lots of it). You can chill it down or pour it over ice to serve it. That's the right way to make iced tea. But it's not how they make it in the north. There, they just pour your basic unsweetened tea over ice and expect you to stir the sugar in yourself. It doesn't work, of course. The sugar doesn't dissolve in the icy cold water, so you get one sip that's sort of sweet and another bitter as can be. Is a glass of good sweet tea too much to ask for?


07 They freeze their fingers off because they don't have koozies

Blank black collapsible beer bottle koozie mockup, dark background AlexandrBognat/ Getty Images

Every southerner knows what a koozie is and probably has half a dozen crammed in a cabinet somewhere. Those soft foam drink holders keep your drinks cold when you're at the park or at a game during the summer heat. And at the same, koozies keep your fingers from freezing while you're clutching that icy-cold drink. Koozies are so popular in the south that you can even get them as party favors or marketing giveaways.


08 You can't have farmhouse decor if you've never seen a farmhouse


Any southerner knows instantly what farmhouse decor is all about because they've been in a thousand homes that feature it. The comfortable, cozy seating. The distressed wood furniture. The cute decor items feature cows, chickens, and other farm animals. Farmhouse decor feels at home in the south because the south is filled with farms and comfort. But when this style gets transported northward, it just seems odd. What's more peculiar than stepping into a New York townhouse, expecting city-style elegance, only to find a (fake) potbelly stove and sliding barn doors?


09 I'm sorry, but that's not actual barbecue

Pensioner and his son wearing aprons, holding bottles of beer and roasting meat on barbecue in the backyard bernardbodo/ Getty Images

Any Southerner knows that barbecue is all about slow-roasting meat — and that meat is almost always pork. Sure, Carolina-style BBQ is different from what you'll find in Memphis, and they're both different from Texas barbecue. But it's all wonderful, and it all takes hours and hours to cook. Imagine the shock for a southerner who accepts a northern friend's invitation to a "barbecue," only to find someone grilling boneless chicken or veggies on a basic backyard grill. No, sir, that is not what barbecue is — and you have to pity the northerners who are missing out.


10 Where's the gravy?

gravy sauce in sauce pod with mashed potato ahirao_photo/ Getty Images

Brown gravy. Sausage gravy. Pan gravy. The list of southern gravies is endless, with every chef and home cook swearing by their favorite. In the north, though, you're not likely to see gravy 364 days a year (they'll make an exception for Thanksgiving). How is it possible to be happy if you can't have a dish of biscuits and gravy every now and then? The truly shocking thing: most northerners don't even know that biscuits and gravy is a thing.


11 Northerners say what they mean

Problems in the business franckreporter/ Getty Images

In the north, people are straightforward with their words. They say what they mean in a direct way, without really caring whether they're hurting anyone's feelings or not. In the south, people are a little kinder and gentler. They'll cushion bad news or a negative review so that, if you're being insulted, you may not even realize it till later.


12 There's no need to be rude

Shot of a young woman serving a difficult customer in a coffee shop jeffbergen/ Getty Images

Yes, of course, northerners aren't trying to be rude when they're so abrupt and fail to say "sir" and "ma'am" when speaking to you. That's just their way. But it's not surprising when southerners feel a bit put off. After all, everyone in the south was raised to speak politely, especially to their elders.


13 Don't toss that bacon grease!

Cropped Hand Cooking Bacon On Stove In Kitchen Rostislav Kuznetsov / EyeEm/ Getty Images

In the south, bacon grease is a valuable commodity. Folks save their leftover bacon grease in a jar, pulling it out to add a little extra flavor to dishes. Sure, olive oil, which they love in the north, may technically be better for you. But you can't deny that bacon has more flavor and aroma. (And let's not even talk about the horrific act of microwaving bacon, which some folks actually do up north.)


14 Northerners are missing some of the best fast food

The mac and cheese and the dirty rice at Bojangles. The Zax sauce and the chicken fingers at Zaxby's. The smothered hash browns and the sausage on raisin bread at Waffle House. The patty melt and hot apple pie at Whataburger. Northerners can keep their healthy food. They don't know what they're missing.


15 How can northerners stand the cold?

Portrait of young beautiful woman enjoying snow in the city. Oscar Wong/ Getty Images

Northerners like to complain about how hot and steamy the south is. But how do they stand the endless snow and freezing temperatures? It's positively blissful to live where a snow day is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, not something that happens because you're locked into your house until a city employee clears the street.


16 College football matters! (and so does high school football)

Group of men, American football team on training outdoors. South_agency/ Getty Images

What are northern folks doing with their Saturdays during the fall? They're not watching college football, that's for sure. You have to wonder how those northern schools keep their football teams going since so few people seem to be interested in them. In the south, people define themselves by the teams they root for. They head to the games on the weekends, and they watch the away games on TV. And don't even get started on the importance of high school football on Friday nights!


17 Let's talk cornbread

Iron Cast Skillet Corn Bread GMVozd/ Getty Images

Southern cornbread has three basic ingredients: corn meal, buttermilk, and either butter or bacon grease (you knew you saved it for a reason!). One thing it doesn't have? Sugar. In the north, cornbread is so loaded with sugar that it might as well be cake, not bread. That's a big no for a southerner. (And could folks in the north please learn what hush puppies actually are?)


18 When is "dinner," anyway?

Shot of a young family enjoying a meal together Moyo Studio/ Getty Images

Let's say your friend from up north asks you to get together for dinner. What are they talking about? In the south, it's all very clear. "Dinner" is the meal served in the middle of the day, and "Sunday dinner" is the meal you eat right after church. Up north, for some reason, they call the evening meal "dinner." That's just confusing since any good southerner knows the evening meal is called "supper." Better check your calendar twice if you plan to eat dinner with a northerner.


19 Slow down, already!

Crowd of business people on their way from work. They are unrecognisable. Long exposure shot. AzmanL/ Getty Images

Life is gracious in the south. That means things move slowly. Everything's less crowded, traffic moves more slowly, and everyone is in less of a hurry. Here's the question southerners have for most northerners: why are you in such a rush? What are you hurrying to get to? Instead, why not take a minute to relax and enjoy time with the people around you?


20 When you say you want a "coke," what do you mean?

Close-up shot of two women having a refreshing drink at the bar. fotostorm/ Getty Images

When a northerner orders a coke, they want a coca-cola, and nothing else will do. All those other carbonated drinks they call "soda." But in the south, "coke" means any kind of soda, including actual coca-cola. If a northerner orders a coke in the south, the waitress will ask, "What kind, honey," which will just confuse the northerner. It's all a bit funny, especially when you realize that coca-cola is a southern drink!


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.