The Great Pecan Debate Is Being Solved Once And For All

Take a second right now and say pecan out loud. No, say it correctly. No, that's not right at all. It's pronounced pecan.

See the issue? We all know how "pecan" is spelled, but until now, no one has known for certain how to pronounce it out loud. Some people insist it's pronounced "PEA-can." Others swear the only way to pronounce it is "puh-CON." Now, thanks to the American Pecan Council, an organization comprised of shellers and growers, we're about to settle the great Pecan Debate

The site features a poll where you can cast your vote for which pronunciation is the correct one. Cast your vote now if you want to have a say in determining the officially correct pronunciation — the poll closes at midnight Central Time tomorrow night/Thursday morning. Good thing, too, since we want this debate closed before we start talking about Aunt Cathy's pecan pie this Thanksgiving

You can see the updated results after casting your vote (via Yahoo Finance). It's a real squeaker right now: 49.18 percent of respondents say PEA-can versus the 50.82 percent who say puh-CON. But hey – at least with this poll, we know the results will be in right away, unlike certain other instances of voting.

Is the difference regional?

Many believe that how you pronounce the word comes down to where you were from. In 2018, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University actually identified four common pronunciations,  pee-KAHN, PEE-kahn, PEE-can, pick-AHN, and mapped out their popularity (via Farm Flavor). According to these findings, PEE-can is the favored pronunciation on the East Coast while pick-AHN is said in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Pee-KAHN is the most popular across the country. And PEE-kahn is preferred in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota. 

However, the regional differences might not be so cut-and-dried. As Kathleen Purvis, author of Pecansa cookbook entirely dedicated to the nut, explains in North Carolina's Our State magazine, "Conventional wisdom holds that the difference is regional, one more thing separated by the Mason-Dixon line. Sorry, but that's just not so. I've listened to people from all over. And in my experience, this pronunciation isn't North versus South. It's urban versus rural." She explains that pea-can is more rural, while puh-kahn is more urban.

It looks like we can't even agree on why we disagree. But whether it's a question of right or wrong, north or south, or urban versus rural, we're so close to having an agreed-upon definition. Check back with the debate on Thursday to see which pronunciation comes out on top.