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TypeSoft drink
ManufacturerCarolina Beverage Corporation
DistributorLocal bottlers and distributors
Country of originUnited States
FlavorBlack cherry
  • Diet Cheerwine
  • Caffeine-free Diet Cheerwine
  • Retro Cheerwine
  • Holiday Cheerwine Punch
  • Cheerwine Kreme (Krispy Kreme flavored)

Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink by Carolina Beverage Corporation of Salisbury, North Carolina. It has been produced since 1917, claiming to be "the oldest continuing soft drink company still operated by the same family".[1]

Overview and history[edit]

When the Maysville Syrup Company of Maysville, Kentucky went bankrupt in 1917, L.D. Peeler, Hughston Kirby, Kurt Weinmann and other invested businessmen moved the company to North Carolina and renamed it the Carolina syrup company.[2] That same year, Peeler, Kirby and Weinmann purchased a recipe for a cherry flavored soda from a Saint Louis flavor salesman, which eventually became Cheerwine.[3] Though it has been around since 1917, Cheerwine first became a registered trademark in 1926.[4]

The family of Lewis Peeler has run the Cheerwine company since its founding, and his great-grandson[5] Charles Clifford “Cliff” Ritchie[6] has been CEO and president of Cheerwine's parent company, Carolina Beverage Corporation since 1992.[7]

Cheerwine bottle, c. 1920, on display at the North Carolina Museum of History

Cheerwine has a mildly sweet flavor with strong cherry notes, most notably black cherry; is burgundy-colored; and has an unusually high degree of carbonation compared to other soft drinks. The product was named for its color and taste; the company website states that "it made sense to name a burgundy-red, bubbly, cherry concoction—Cheerwine."[4] The "Retro Cheerwine" variant is sold in glass bottles and is sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Despite its name, Cheerwine is not really a wine and contains no alcohol.

The company also markets Cheerwine flavored ice cream, sherbet, and cream bars, mainly in Food Lion, a Salisbury, NC–based supermarket chain.[8] A commercially baked Cheerwine cake, based on an old Southern recipe, became available through a Salisbury-based company in 2008.[9]

In 2009, the company began a re-branding campaign designed to revamp the drink's image, especially among younger consumers. The re-branding called for a redesign of the Cheerwine packaging, with a new, retro-style logo based on an early Cheerwine logo.[10]

In 2010, Cheerwine partnered with the North Carolina–based doughnut company, Krispy Kreme, and released a limited-offered Cheerwine flavored donut on July 1 of that year. It was sold only at select grocery stores for the month of July,[11] and at the Salisbury Krispy Kreme. The Cheerwine doughnut returned again in July 2011.[12][13] Cheerwine Kreme, a soda with the flavors of Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme, was sold during the summers of 2016 and 2017.[14]

In 2010, Canton, Ohio–based Old Carolina Barbecue became the first restaurant chain in Ohio to offer Cheerwine as a fountain drink. By 2014, Cheerwine-based products including iced slushy,[15] Cheerwine cakes and floats had become a signature part of the Old Carolina concept.[16][17]

Morgan Shepherd ran an entry in the NASCAR Busch Series in the mid-1990s with Cheerwine sponsorship.

Cheerwine is sometimes mixed with Captain Morgan rum to make a drink called "Captain Cheerwine"[18] or the "Whining Pirate".[19]

A Cheerwine Recipe Book was published in 2017, by Sandy Carol Sider.

Slogans have included "Born in the South. Raised in a Glass", "Nectar of the South", "Betcha can't not smile." and "Uniquely Southern".[20]

Cheerwine has long been the unofficial drink of the YMCA's Conference on National Affairs. Occurring in June-July each year at the Blue Ridge Assembly Historic District in Black Mountain, North Carolina, the conference is a place where young people representing the U.S. states meet and discuss the important issues in their respective communities.


Cheerwine is currently available in much of the southeastern United States, from West Virginia south to Florida, but is better known in the Carolinas.[5] Other spots to find Cheerwine are the many "specialty soda" stores throughout the country, as well as WinCo Foods in Washington state, Cracker Barrel restaurants,[5][21][22] Cook Out restaurants,[23] Sheetz convenience stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and overseas, in Oslo, Norway.[24] It is sold either as a single bottle or as a pack of four.[25]

In April 2005, other regions of the United States began to bottle Cheerwine, mainly through Pepsi distributors.[5][26]

On March 9, 2011, The New York Times Diner's Journal referred to "The Expanding Cult of Cheerwine".[27]

On April 5, 2011, the company announced plans for nationwide distribution by 2017, the product's 100th anniversary. The same day, the company also introduced a new advertising campaign, "Born in the South. Raised in a glass."[1] At the time, Cheerwine was available in 12 percent of the nation.[28] Radio commercials for that campaign include "The Caper", where criminals left everything from a store except Cheerwine; and "Battle of the Bulge", in which a soldier from the Salisbury area has two bottles sent to him during World War II and gives one to his friend.[1]

Also in April 2011, Cheerwine announced it was searching for a woman to represent the company as "Miss Cheerwine". Candidates had to be 21 to 25 years old and live in Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia. A company spokesperson stated, "We’re looking for a poised, enthusiastic young woman who can help us spread the legend and get Cheerwine into the hands of our fans with charm, confidence, sweetness and a sense of fun."[29] On June 3, 2011, Spencer Cummings, named the first Miss Cheerwine, began the Miss Cheerwine Summer Legend Tour.[30]

On October 18, 2011, Cheerwine announced plans to partner with Pepsi Beverages Co. in Atlanta, Florida, and Memphis, Tennessee. The same week, the company began using glass bottles to distribute the "Original 1917 Formula" with sugar, as well as introduced 12-pack cans.[28]

On June 16, 2014, Birmingham's Buffalo Rock Co. announced Cheerwine distribution in Alabama, western Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. This added about 6.5 million potential new customers to their distribution footprint.[31]


In 2005, Cheerwine secured a product placement deal with the producers of the short-lived teen drama Palmetto Pointe, which was filmed in Charleston, South Carolina. As a result, the brand's beverages were shown onscreen in each of the series' five aired episodes.

Cheerwine has sponsored the North Carolina band the Avett Brothers on tour.[32]

In addition to the sponsorships above, they also sponsor the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team. This sponsorship gives Cheerwine LED signage ads, an advertisement spot on the teams bus, and is sold inside PNC Arena for all sorts of events.


  1. ^ a b c Wineka, Mark (April 6, 2011). "Cheerwine hopes to be nationwide in six years". The Salisbury Post. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "Cheerwinehistory". Archived from the original on April 19, 2009.
  3. ^ "Cheerwine Soda - Online Ordering".
  4. ^ a b "Since 1917: The Cheerwine Timewine". Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d Taylor, Kate (April 26, 2016). "Cheerwine is ready to take over the soda market". Business Insider. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  6. ^ Purtell, David (May 31, 2015). "F&M Bank boards elect new chairman, two new directors". Salisbury Post. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Ritchie is the president and CEO of Cheerwine Bottling Company and Carolina Beverage Corporation. He is a native of Rowan County and a graduate of Lenoir Rhyne University. Since returning to Salisbury to work in the family business, Ritchie has overseen the unprecedented growth of the Cheerwine brand and its affiliated bottling operations.
  7. ^ "Cliff Ritchie: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  8. ^ "Cheerwine maker launches new product". Charlotte Business Journal. October 2, 2003. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
  9. ^ "Apple Baking Co. introduces Cheerwine cake". Salisbury Post. July 30, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  10. ^ "Cheerwine 'restaging' with new look, campaign". Salisbury Post. September 18, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  11. ^ Smith, Shelley (July 1, 2010). "Cheerwine filled doughnuts are a hit". Salisbury Post. Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  12. ^ Jenkins, Scott (July 31, 2010). "Cheerwine doughnut now only in Salisbury". Salisbury Post. Archived from the original on August 2, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  13. ^ "Cheerwine Krispy Kremes return". Salisbury Post. June 30, 2011. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  14. ^ "Pop and doughnuts: Cheerwine Kreme returns to stores today". Salisbury Post. July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "Old Carolina Barbecue Company". June 12, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  16. ^ "Barbecue eatery completes magical link to South". The Canton Repository. March 1, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  17. ^ "One Great Southern Tradition Meets Another". Old Carolina Barbecue Company. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  18. ^ "Captain Cheerwine recipe". Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  19. ^ "What is in a Whining Pirate alcoholic drink?". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  20. ^ "Cheerwine launches 'Uniquely Southern' campaign". Salisbury Post. February 24, 2018. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  21. ^ Tolentino, Jia (January 28, 2016). "Letter of Recommendation: Cracker Barrel". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2016. The food section is stacked with cream soda, moon pies, apple butter and Cheerwine…
  22. ^ Alfs, Lizzy (September 23, 2016). "How Cracker Barrel plans to lure millennials". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Lately, younger shoppers have been drawn to the vintage soda wall with options that include Cheerwine and Ale-8-One, artisan home decor, stained-glass lamps, retro T-shirts and vintage candies like Necco Wafers and Double Bubble.
  23. ^ "Menu | COOK OUT". Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  24. ^ "Cheerwine expands into Norway". The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area. January 13, 2003. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  25. ^ "Cheerwine Soft Drink Unveils Custom-Molded Glass Bottle at InterBev in Atlanta". October 24, 2002. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  26. ^ "Cheerwine lands distribution deal with Pepsi Bottling Ventures". The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area. February 17, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  27. ^ Collins, Glenn (March 9, 2011). "The Expanding Cult of Cheerwine". Diner's Journal. New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  28. ^ a b Craver, Richard (October 19, 2011). "Cheerwine Bottling Co. agreement doubles Salisbury-based company's distribution presence". Winston-Salem Journal. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011..
  29. ^ Wineka, Mark (April 25, 2011). "You could be the first Miss Cheerwine". Salisbury Post. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  30. ^ "Meet Miss Cheerwine". Salisbury Post. June 2, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  31. ^ Diel, Stan (June 10, 2014). "Buffalo Rock to make, distribute North Carolina soft drink Cheerwine". Retrieved June 10, 2014..
  32. ^ "The Avett Brothers Partner With Cheerwine". PR Newswire. May 16, 2012.

External links[edit]