If you look closely at the freezer section, you'll find sherbet flavors from Baskin-Robbins and Edy's. Same goes with Baskin-Robbins and Dairy Queen, home to rainbow sherbet and orange sherbet. But if you order the fruity dessert at a store, there's a pretty good chance you pronounce the flavor 'sherbert,' right? Sherbet, without the second 'r,' just sounds wrong.
Despite kind of knowing there's only one 'r' in the word, and seeing it spelled that way on ice cream containers, we've come to accept 'sherbert' as the correct pronunciation. It's even listed as an alternative in some English dictionaries. Weird, right? Smithsonian Magazine took a look at how this mispronunciation came to be, and it turns out it mostly has to do with how we think the word should sound.
English language historian and Indiana University-Bloomington provost professor Michael Adams think it has to do with humans' tendency to assimilate sounds as we expect to hear them.
"I think a lot of English speakers are like me," Adams told the magazine. "When I'm reading aloud to my children I sometimes unconsciously repeat sounds in syllables or words that closely resemble each other, and then I re-read the phrase. Sherbet is begging to be pronounced Herbert on this 'principle.'"
So, we like when things rhyme. Makes sense. The other possible explanation is that it all goes back to a 1939 song called "Shoot The Sherbet To Me Herbert.' While the dessert is spelled correctly in the title, it's sung so that sherbet rhymes with Herbert. The song was a hit, and apparently, hearing 'sherbert' over and over again really stuck.
Now that you're craving this childhood treat, you can make a Fruit Loops-tasting sherbet at home. Just hold the 'r.'