pecan illustration

Here's a Christmas holiday debate for you that is something other than politics. How do you pronounce “pecan”?

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The nut is grown primarily in the South and Mexico. It is a holiday staple and a healthy snack. And the source of much debate on what to call it.

Did you pronounce "pecan" as puh-KAHNs or PEE-cans? The website www.colatoday.com, which is devoted to news and events in the Midlands, put forth the question and offered some insight.

"If you read 'PEE-can,' you line up with 45% of Southerners and nearly 70% of Northerners," the website reported, citing a poll by the National Pecan Shellers Association. "Pronunciation is often attributed to region, with many believing dialect affects how people pronounce words like pecan, caramel or mayonnaise.

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"There are some studies that justify that claim, but many others think it’s nuts. Get it? Some people, like Josh Katz, author of 'Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse" and 'You Guys Talk,' think you’ll hear both pronunciations in any state, and that the difference depends more on a rural vs. urban background."

Further, www.colatoday.com says the debate over pronunciation extends beyond two choices. While puh-KAHN and PEE-can are the two most common – there are six widely used pronunciations of the word:

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• puh-KAHN

• puh-CAN

• PEE-can

• PEE-kahn

• pee-KAHN

• pee-CAN

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"We may never agree, but one thing’s for sure – the Southern nut makes for a great dessert (especially around the holiday season)."

From there, the website offers names of businesses with dishes "celebrating the pecan," a pecan pie recipe from Spotted Salamander’s Chef Jessica Shillato, one of five South Carolina Chef Ambassadors for 2019 -- and poll on how you believe pecan should be pronounced.

"Let's settle this" is the promotion for casting your vote. But we all know the result won't end the debate. So while so many “discussions” in the country these days can turn ugly, enjoy this one as you enjoy one of the South's true treasures, no matter how you pronounce the name.

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