photograph by David Stanley


A Southern brand still deeply rooted in North Carolina, Cheerwine has a distinctive cherry taste in the family of snow cones and Life Savers. The fruity flavor pairs well with another Southern staple: barbecue.


Pepsi has gone through many red-white-and-blue logos, but since it was created in the late 19th century, this native soda has stood the test of time. Famously “born in the Carolinas,” it’s gone from over-the-counter medicinal aid to state icon.

L.D. Peeler invented Cheerwine in Salisbury in 1917. The company is now in its fourth generation of family ownership, with a fifth generation in management positions.
New Bern pharmacist Caleb Bradham invented Pepsi in his downtown drugstore in 1898. The Birthplace of Pepsi historic site and shop is located on that very spot today.
“Cheer” is a clear suggestion of what you’ll feel while drinking this bubbly beverage. The “wine” part of the name is because soft drinks in the early part of the century were named after alcohol, like ginger ale and root beer.
The drink was originally (and unoriginally) called “Brad’s Drink,” but it became Pepsi-Cola because it was marketed as a cure for “dyspepsia,” or indigestion.
Cheerwine often receives recipes from their fans for ham glazes, cakes, cocktails, and other edibles that benefit from a sweet, carbonated kick.
Parishioners at Christ Episcopal Church, located directly across the street from Bradham’s original drugstore, have long claimed that Pepsi-Cola was actually just an anagram of the word “episcopal.”
North Carolinians send cases of the drink to family members serving in the military overseas, because there’s no taste like home.
Empty a pack of peanuts into a bottle of Pepsi, take a swig, and you’ll know why sweet and savory can’t hold a candle to sweet, salty, and carbonated.
Joy Ritchie Harper is the great-great- granddaughter of Cheerwine’s founder, and the company’s head of marketing.
Sabrina Bengel is managing partner at The Birthplace of Pepsi, and the owner of New Bern Tours.

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Susan Stafford Kelly was raised in Rutherfordton. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Carolina Classics, a collection of essays that have appeared in Our State, and five novels: How Close We Come, Even Now, The Last of Something, Now You Know, and By Accident. Susan has three grown children and lives in Greensboro with her husband, Sterling.