Whats the deal in USA with 1 litre soda pop, is USA on metric?

I live in Toronto, Canada and we use metric measurement. And I understood that the US opted out and continue to use the imperial measurements.

Then can someone tell me why I see soda pop/mouthwash being sold in litre bottles in the USA?

Is it a way for the manufacturers of these products to gough the public for more money by confusing them with the size by using something that they are not familar with? :confused:

If so, we have had a 20 year warming up process. Soda has been sold by the liter for a long time.

For some reason companies have decided to see soda by the liter and milk by the quart or gallon. It probably lies with the industry standards and not with any overall government policy. I was in elementary school in the early 1980’s and I remember being told that by the year 2000, the United States would be a metric oriented society. It hasn’t happened yet.

America is doing it just right. We use measurements that make sense for what we’re measuring.

Gallons works really well for gasoline, and we know instinctively how far a mile is. We don’t need to do math in our heads to figure it out.

Dieters understand fat grams. And conservative NRA members such as myself know how big a 9 mm bullet is.

It so happens that two liters is a convenient quantity of soda to buy, for larger sizes. For individual consumption, 12 and 16 oz. containers are common.

We use metric when it works, and have never had to have it crammed down our throats.

I haven’t seen a 16 oz. bottle in YEARS. The most common sizes where I live is 20 oz. and 1 liter

A lot of things are metric in the USA, the most common one in my experience being medicine. As for soda, I have seen Coke and/or Pepsi sold in all of the following sizes:

8 oz, 12 oz, 0.5 L, 20 oz, 24 oz, 1 L, 2 L, 3 L

I’ve never seen 16 oz, though, as far as I can remember.

Coke has come back out with 16.9 oz plastic bottles in twelve packs just recently.

We buy our gas in gallons and measure our engines’ performance in horsepower.

If suddenly we began selling gasoline at 36 cents a liter and measured the power in Kilowatts, the average American would think somebody had found out a new way to cheat him.

Metric is alive and well in the USA if you look. Such as:

  1. The hard liquor industry.
  2. The pharmaceutical industry.
  3. The auto industry.

The list goes on. With global businesses it’s more cost-effective to go metric than not.

About the only part of America that really hasn’t gone metric are average Americans.


That’s a ridiculous statement. It works well for you because you’re used to it. If you’d been pumping liters all your life you would be just as comfortable with it.

When it comes to food products, Americans don’t care that much about the unit of measurement, just about the relative size of the container. You could start selling milk in 3.79 L containers and no one would care as long as it was the same shape.

They do sell milk in 3.79 L containers. Do you mean 4 L containers?

No, I mean they could print 3.79 L on the label instead of 1 gallon, and no one would care.

Care, or notice? They do print 3.79 L on them. At least, they do on mine. It says:
1 gal
(3.79 L)

Other metric units used commonly by us Yanks include ** hertz, calories, watts, volts, amps and ohms**. The last three have no Imperial equivalents, AFAIK.

You’ll also hear a lot of metric when dealing with biomedical stuff, like a 10cc injection of epinephrine. This is basically because the Imperial system is completely useless when it comes to describing the length, weight and volume of really tiny things. The diameter of a DNA double helix is .00000007 inches? Pfft. It’s 2 nm.

I wouldn’t necessarily say Americans are doing it the “right” way. I’m sure a kilometer is just as instinctive to a citizen of a metric country as a mile is to us.

That being said, I don’t believe forcing the system on Americans will win it any fans. The fact that it is an inherently superior (IMHO) and more intuitive system combined with the necessity of using it just so we can interact with the rest of the world for commercial purposes will whittle away the last vesitiges of the Imperial system.


The majority of products found in an store in the United States are marked in dual units … English and metric.

Items made by very small local companies are usually labeled in English units only.

Wine and hard liquor is labeled in metric only. Most over-the-counter medicine is metric only, too.

Just eyeballing the shelves, about 10% of all items are marketed in “metric friendly” sizes, an example being two liter pop bottles. The “2 LITER” marking is dominant, with the odd English measurement downplayed. About 50% of health and beauty items use good, round metric measurements. The plastic bottle of Pantene shampoo by the tub is labeled “400 mL (13.5 fl oz)”. The box containing a bar of Basis soap is labeled “5.3 oz 150 g.”

In my laundry room, the Downy is labeled “1.8 L (60 fl oz).” The liquid Tide detergent, though, demonstrated excessive precision – “300 fl oz 8.87 L” something that I think is scaring a lot of folks here away from embracing metric units. There’s a belief that if the US goes completely metric, the stores will be stocked with oddball sized products for eternity – 454 gram packets of spaghetti and 355 milliter bottles of beer. Product packaging changes every few years for marketing purposes; so it’s no burden to alter packaging to avoid awkward sizes.

I think that sometime around 2010, the US will be more-or-less metric. Americans feel comfortable with metric units for volume, distance, and to some extent mass. Temperature … I think Americans will remain more comfortable with English units; if it’s 80 in Miami and 40 in Buffalo, the temperature difference is more apparent than if it’s 26 in Miami and 5 in Buffalo.

Construction and real estate will remain English for a long time … probably the rest of the century, given standardized building materials, previous land surveys and the English-based section-township-range system used in legal property descriptions. (When I was living in New Mexico, I frequently used surveys, some quite recent, with areas measured in cordels. *caballerias * and sitios, and distances measured in varas. Whether they were Southern New Mexico varas, Territorial varas, Pueblo varas, Texas varas, Arizona varas, California varas, Mexican varas or Castillian varas was anyone’s guess.)

Just like Brits measure their weight in stone, Americans will still state their weight using pounds.

I think, mind you now, this is just a thought! Because the US imports and exports so much it is just practiacl to have both standard and metric units on merchandise. The times I’ve been out of the US, I’ve noticed quite a bit of merchandise on the shelves that are of US origin and are in the same packaging as here.
There are a lot of countries that ship to the US and they seem to be doing the same. It is getting quite common to include more than one language as well.

I remember 30 years ago in school, the country panicking about our changing to the metric system. People were screaming, freaking out about it. So, it just got pushed aside and a gradual change took place. It’s not complete yet but look around. Practically everything today is measured in metric also, if not exclusively.

Like Duckster was saying, when’s the last time you bought a quart of booze? coke, or many other items?

and BTW Coke bottles are made in the US or at least some of them are, I used to work there.

Illicit drugs are giving younger generations a whole new incentive to know exactly how many grams are in an ounce.

More like we use whatever happens to be handy.

I’ve heard that before. Usually referring to a much earlier date. :slight_smile:

Americans feel comfortable with metric units for volume, distance, and to some extent mass.

Volume? Like I ever use it.


Mass? Who cares about mass?

The main reason why soft drink manufacturers use liters and 2-liters is that it’s cheaper. I don’t recall the difference, but when they switched from 64-oz to 2 liters, they discovered the cost of manufacturing was such that they didn’t have to charge extra for the extra ounces.

I think metric is the way to go, with one major exception: temperature. The Centigrade scale (not Celsius, since he got it backwards) is inferior to Fahrenheit because (purely by chance), Fahrenheit’s scale is perfect for the main reason people want to know the temperature: the weather. 0-100 Fahrenheit is a pretty neat match to the normal extremes in temperature and gives you a great basis for comparison.

Catholics and astronauts.:slight_smile: