Sherbert versus sherbet and other words you may be getting wrong

Tracy Carbone
Sherbet on a spoonPhoto byAlexander GreyonUnsplash

A few months ago, after buying rainbow sherbert I noticed the spelling was wrong. I mentioned it to others in my house who agreed that the manufacturer had incorrectly left off the second R. The label read “Sherbet.” Looking it up online we realized we were not the only ones who had the “wrong” spelling the whole time. Per Merriam Webster “On a hot summer day, there's nothing like sweet, cold sherbet on your tongue to make you feel cooler. Or maybe you call it ‘sherbert.’ Or maybe you get all hot under the collar when people call it that. Maybe in your mind the confection can only be called ‘sherbet’ (SHER-but) and people who call it (and spell it) ‘sherbert’ (SHER-bert) are bumbling Neanderthals.”
bowl of orange sherbetPhoto byDovile RamoskaiteonUnsplash

Worry not if you’re in the sherbert camp. Though the origin of the word derives from Turkish, Arabic, and Persian words “şerbet and sharbat, respectively” without the second R, “when the word was imported into English in the early 17th century it was coming from languages many English speakers considered exotic, and spelling was all over the place.”

Sherbet became the accepted spelling by the late 18th century, but “after only a few intermittent uses in the 18th and 19th centuries, sherbert staged a minor comeback in the 20th century. It's now a fully established (though far lesser-used) variant.” Mystery solved.
fudge popsPhoto byShashi CharlesonUnsplash

What about chocolate ice cream sticks, a/k/a fudgicles? Do you call it a fudgsicle or a fudgicle? Half my household (we are East Coast transplants living in Southern California) insisted it was fudgicle (fudge-ICKLE). The other half, native SoCal residents, insisted otherwise (fudge-SICKLE). Surprisingly, we were not the first to pose this question. Though there were many Reddit threads on the topic, the best explanation for the variance goes to Tom Pappaardo’s site. “...fudgsicle” is the official brand name from the Popsicle company. A brief survey of the planet revealed that only old people, folks North of Boston, and scattered handfuls of weirdos say ‘fudgicle’.”

Growing up in towns south of Boston and spending my adult years north of Boston, that assessment fits. But why? “A little Googling reveals that the Joe Lowe Corporation of New York actually had a bona fide product without the S.”

Finally, he continues, “Wikipedia proclaims: ‘Fudgsicle is another registered trademark of Unilever. In the early 20th century, the product was sold as Fudgicle’”

Half my family embraces our New England colloquialisms and will continue to say fugicle even if it's technically no longer correct.

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I'm a California based writer, blogger, and painter who strives to post local and national articles to inspire and engage my readers.

Simi Valley, CA

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