puh-KAHN. PEE-can. pee-KAHN. PEE-kahn.
These are just some of the ways people around the country pronounce the smooth, brown nut that is spelled "pecan" but verbalized very differently, depending on where you live and who you grew up around.
The word comes from the Native American word, pacane, as the nut was a key part of the diets for Native Americans hundreds of years ago.
The first U.S. pecan planting was in Long Island, N.Y. in 1772, but it eventually became a commonly cultivated nut in the southern states—including Texas.
The first pronunciation of the word actually happened 11 years before that, and it was pronounced "puh-kahn," according to Merriam-Webster.
However, as the nut started to be grown, eaten and baked into foods all around the country, the way the word is said spread as well.
In May of this year, Tennessee Valley Pecan Company said while there is not a "proper" way to say it, the most accepted pronunciation is "pi-KAHN."
In 2020, West Texas pecan company Millican Pecan wrote in a blog post that pecan "can be correctly pronounced as “Pa-kawn” and not “PEE-can” or “puh-KAHN” or "whichever pronunciation."
Agriculture company Farm Flavor said "pee-KAHN" is the most commonly used pronunciation, with areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi using "pick-AHN" most frequently.
However, based on a recent survey from the National Pecan Shellers Association, it showed that 70% of people from the Northeast pronounce it "PEE-can" as well as 45% of southerners.
According to the U.S. Pecans Growers Council (yes, that's a real thing), there is no right or wrong way to pronounce pecan.
Back in 2003, Harvard University created a dialect survey that shows the way certain areas of the country generally pronounce the word. It said, at the time, that 28.6% of the country said "pee-KAHN," the highest percentage in the country.
If you look up "pecan pronunciation" on Google.com, the search engine will tell you to say "puh-KAAN."
When it comes down to it, there is no one way to say the constantly debated word pecan. Guess this one is just a hard nut to crack.