There are Coleslaws made with coarsely shredded raw cabbage, and coleslaws made with finely minced raw cabbage. There are coleslaws made with creamy sauces such as boiled dressings, and coleslaws that are more “pickled” with vinegar.
Coleslaws can be made with red or white cabbage, but they are generally made with white cabbage, if only because it is the bog-standard one in North America.
The biggest division seems to be between those who can’t get enough of the Kentucky Fried Chicken nuclear green version of coleslaw, and those who hate it.
Coleslaw can also used as a hot-dog topping, especially the pickled variety.
Though coleslaw is a very popular salad today in North America and the UK, it is just as popular with the Dutch, who also have a zillion variations.
Coleslaw really took off with the availability of jarred mayonnaise in the first decades of the 1900s.
Literature & Lore
Some people misunderstand the word and write or say “cold slaw”.
Coleslaw originated from the Dutch word “koolsla”. “Kool” means cabbage, related to the German word for cabbage “Kohl” and the English word, “kale”. The Dutch word for salad is actually “salade”, but here it’s shortened down to just “sla”. So, Coleslaw literally means “cabbage salad”.