If you’ve spent any amount of time in the great state of North Carolina, you know that Cheerwine soda holds an almost cult-like status among residents and transplants alike. For many decades, the availability of this fizzy, cherry-flavored drink was exclusive to a handful of Southeastern states, but that’s changing now that the product’s distribution is beginning to extend to all 50 states. Of course, even as Cheerwine appears in grocery stores and restaurant soda fountains throughout the country, the drink still holds firmly to its rich North Carolinians roots.
As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s take a closer look at why people who live in North Carolina absolutely love this quintessential soft drink brand.
The history of Cheerwine
Cheerwine was developed in 1917 by businessman L.D. Peeler in Salisbury, North Carolina, just as the U.S. was entering the first World War.
“Sugar was heavily rationed at the time,” according to Eater, which is why “Peeler wanted to create a new soft drink that would use less of it; adding cherry flavoring reduced the amount of sugar needed to make the drink palatable.”
While the pleasantly strong cherry flavor makes Cheerwine stand out from the crowd of other major soft drinks, Cheerwine is also famed for its extra fizzy carbonation levels. Cheerwine has also become forever associated with North Carolina-style barbecue — it pairs perfectly with the state’s signature vinegar-based sauce. It’s even the official beverage of the National Barbecue Association!
In addition to the drink, it’s not uncommon to find other Cheerwine-inspired products in North Carolina, including Cheerwine ice cream, Cheerwine cake, and even limited edition Krispy Kreme Cheerwine donuts. Naturally, you’ll find all these products in Food Lion — another major food brand that got its start in Salisbury, North Carolina.
The future is sweet, red, and fizzy
Today, Cheerwine is still owned and operated by Peeler’s family, and even as sales of competing soda brands drop around the country, Cheerwine is experiencing growing sales by leaning into its cult-like status and distributing at a larger scale.
In 2017, the drink marked its 100th anniversary. As a testament to the drink’s “hometown hero” status, the city of Salisbury organized a centennial Cheerwine celebration this past May, featuring live music, a barbecue competition, and of course, plenty of the fizzy red drink to toast to the next hundred years!
Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why people choose to make North Carolina their home.