Three Cheers – Cheerwine Celebrates 100 Years!

Cheerwine Social Media Profile logoThree Cheers my friends! A early May trip to the Rowan County Museum in Salisbury provided my inspiration for this post written in celebration of the 100th anniversary, or the #Cheertennial, as they like to say, of Cheerwine. The legendary soft drink “born in the Carolinas and raised in a glass.”

There will most certainly be #CheerInTheAir as thousands of Cheerwine fans across the country, many members of the official fan club – the Cheerwine Authentic Soda Society –  celebrate this unique cherry flavored soft drink that has been pleasing the public’s palate since its inception in 1917.

I was invited by the marketing folks at Cheerwine to take a little trip down memory lane with them and then to tell the story of this delicious native North Carolina beverage.  I am pleased to partner with the company on this post and in the promotion of the big day of celebration for the centennial,  scheduled  in downtown Salisbury for May 20, 2017.

The Cheerwine Bottling Company,  was conceived by general store owner  L.D. Peeler of Salisbury, NC. in 1917. After a long search for something new in soda offerings, he invented the formula for Cheerwine.  What was then a new and unique soft drink with the sweet cherry taste, is still the delicious Cheerwine beverage we know and love today,

IMG_1413The very building in which Cheerwine was invented still stands in Salisbury at 322 East Council Street. While it is no longer a general store, the murals on the side of the building tell the story of its heritage.  The company’s headquarters are a mile or two away, but still proudly in their hometown at 1413 Jake Alexander Blvd. S., Salisbury, NC 28146.

“While much has changed around Cheerwine over the last hundred years, the taste and authenticity of Cheerwine itself will never change,” promises Cliff Ritchie, Cheerwine’s president. Ritchie is the great-grandson of the soft drink’s founder, L.D. Peeler. His children, Joy Harper and Carl Ritchie, are the family’s fifth generation and currently work for the Salisbury-based company which continues to be family owned.

soda shop setThe company and its many fans have been celebrating this major milestone since the first of the year, when the Rowan County Museum, located at 202 N Main St, Salisbury, NC 28144, turned over more than half of the exhibit space to display a wonderful and impressive collection – much of it on loan from private collectors –  of  Cheerwine memorabilia, advertising, bottles, cans and packaging.

heidi in booth

In the largest exhibit room the museum has set up an old fashioned soda shop – for display only – with counter stools from the original Salisbury Woolworths and a 1950’s circa original vinyl covered booth as well. Its a step back in time through the 10 decades of Cheerwine’s long lived popularity. So much to look at, so much many will remember – from billboards to old newspaper advertisements. This food writer just had  to slide into the historic booth for a quick photo op, to stop for a sip and take a moment to take it all in.

old cheerwine redo

One of the original glass bottles with the paper Cheerwine label still intact, is on display at the Rowan County Museum in Salisbury, NC, now till the end of the year.

As was the case with the inception of many of the early soft drinks, Peeler was looking for a way to improve the taste of seltzer water. 100 years ago was still a time before glass soda bottles – which would crack under the pressure of the effervescent and decades before the concept of canned sodas or plastic bottles.

The seltzer water was a chemical concoction and until production of the bubbled water was fine tuned it took the expertise of someone with a scientific background to get the mix just right. And so it was that most early soft drinks, often called tonics or elixirs, were thought to give a healthy boost and were prepared and mixed for on-site consumption by pharmacists.

By the early 1920s the first bottled soda’s came around and I was impressed to see one of the original glass bottles complete with the paper label in the Cheerwine exhibit.  The first vending machines came in the 1950’s and gave the consumer the convenience of buying a single Cheerwine on location.  Prior to that Cheerwine was delivered to stores, first by horse and buggy and then by delivery trucks.

The Secret about the Cheerwine Syrup

As the mix was perfected, and the seltzer water became available on tap, soft drink service moved from pharmacies to soda shops where “soda jerks” blended the sweet Cherry flavored syrup with just the right amount of seltzer water.

Cheerwine, and other soft drinks of the day, was not only served by the glass over ice, but the syrup was served on ice cream sundaes and in ice cream floats.  Each of these soda shops specials was hand crafted by a Soda Jerk.  These were the craft mixologist of their day. The moniker was coined and became popular in the vernacular, as a result of the  jerking action it took to pull down the tap to pour the seltzer in the glass.  syrup boxEven though soft drinks like Cheerwine had been sold to consumers in bottles as the industry developed since the 1920s;  these popular soda shops  and then the drive -ins with “car hops” that followed, continued to mix their own, blending soft drink syrups and seltzer together to order.

The syrup came to soda shops and restaurants in boxes shaped much like an oversized paper milk carton. The cartons were labeled “For Fountain Use” but somehow over the years, Cheerwine syrup has found its way into our kitchens where  chefs and home cooks alike, opted to think outside the syrup box, and have loved blending this wonderfully sweet elixir into hundreds of different recipes.

Interestingly, the syrup is not thick and honestly not overly sweet. It definitely tastes of cherries; and while I am not privy to any trade secrets to give away, for me the “deliciously different” taste of Cheerwine, tastes more than just of cherries, there is also a unidentifiable, rooty, rich component – almost as if there is a bit of sassafras in the mix. Whatever the proprietary blend is, a breakdown doesn’t really matter – I love it, both as a beverage and as an ingredient.

the sweet secret - Cheerwine syrup

A glass, bottle or can of Cheerwine,  starts with the sweet syrup pictured front and center here.

The secret I am privy to share is that Cheerwine syrup is  readily available to consumers at an incredible price. It is yours for the asking, ready for you to purchase to use in your own craft cocktails, cakes, ice cream concoctions, candies, and in marinades, barbecue sauces and glazes for beef, pork, chicken, duck, shrimp and other seafoods as well.

While the syrup is not sold in stores, Cheerwine’s sweet secret syrup is available at the Cheerwine corporate headquarters in Salisbury anytime during regular business hours and will also be available for sale in one of the Cheerwine booth’s at the May 20 celebration for just $3 a bottle!!

1eb6dc_dfd76f41f9cc48e0b9d98f5866007a5a-mv2If you find yourself in need of some inspiration before you start to cook  try a jar of another of my favorite Got To Be NC/Goodness Grows in North Carolina products: Cackalacky/Cheerwine Sweet Sauce. The original, and oh so fabulous, Cackalacky sauce is made from North Carolina sweet potatoes. When Cackalacky fans asked for a slightly sweeter version of this delicious slightly spicy sauce, the sauciers at Cackalacky who make the magic happen, reached out to their friends at Cheerwine. The result:  a sweet ‘n savory dip / grilling sauce / marinade  that you’ll want to mop on everything from shrimp on the barbie to that burger on a bun.

Join in the Cheerwine Centennial Celebration

100YearsofCheer_LogoNo cheer-pressure here, but if you’d like to raise your glass in cheer and join in  the May 20 Centennial Celebration in Cheerwine’s home of Salisbury, NC,  you won’t be alone, so my advice is to start early.  You may drive from Charlotte or make the day even more fun and take the train!!

To simplify travel to and from Cheerwine’s Centennial Celebration, the brand has partnered with Amtrak to offer a discounted transportation alternative. Trains will run from Charlotte and Raleigh to Salisbury, with stops at all stations in between. The Amtrak Salisbury Station is just steps away from the action, and Cheerwine will be served to riders while supplies last! To receive a special 15 percent discount on your pilgrimage, Cheerwine fans may book your tickets here 

The City of Salisbury will be closing off two blocks of Main Street to any vehicular traffic all day on May 20, 2017. There will be stands with free Cheerwine with commemorative Koozies,  free biscuits and bbq and a host of live music for everyone to enjoy from noon to 8 pm. In addition, look for Limited Edition Cheerwine merchandise available for purchase and  a People’s Choice BBQ Competition from noon-2 p.m. Here a half dozen or so teams will compete. Celebration attendees can sample BBQ from each team at no cost and then vote for their favorites. After the competition plates of BBQ will also be available for sale.

Come hungry, in addition to the BBQ and plenty of Cheerwine to drink, the May 20 celebration includes food from many of Cheerwine’s partners and friends. Here is what you’ll find in store: Krispy Kreme will be serving fresh made doughnuts from their new “Hot Now Mobile Store”;  Bojangles and Biscuitville will be serving free biscuits; and Select Bakery  will be serving Cheerwine cake. Fatz Café will be on hand with more good eats,  you can sample that famous Cackalacky sauce I told you about earlier; and King of Pops will offer a specially made Cheerwine-flavored popsicle, on my!

For adults there will be a Biergarten with NC craft beer, featuring pours from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte,  and New Sarum Brewing Company & Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery, both located in Salisbury, NC.

Antique carFor kids, look for the Family-Friendly Kids’ Zone, with magicians, jugglers, rock climbing wall, obstacle course, slides, bounce house, lawn games and more.

Remember the Cheerwine exhibit at the Rowan Museum I told you about? There will be free tours of museum’s multi-room exhibit celebrating Cheerwine’s 100 years. And while you are looking around at it all, keep an eye out for the historic 1927 Cheerwine Ford delivery truck – it will be making appearances during the day and will be the perfect back drop for fun #Cheertennial photos with family and friends!

Cheerwine’s $100 Centennial Can Promotion

But that’s not all – the festivities don’t end after the May 20th weekend. There is reason – actually 500 reasons –  to keep celebrating Cheerwine through the end of the year. As you purchase cans of Cheerwine this year, keep your eyes out for the $100 Centennial Can promotion. There are 500 of the specially labeled  cans to be distributed throughout the Cheerwine inventory this year. Find one, peel off the winning label on the back of the can and win $100!

cheerwine cansHere is how it works. Throughout 2017, the beloved soft drink will continue rolling out new editions in its centennial can series with each of the Cheerwine labels used over the course of the past ten decades. Cheerwine fans are invited to collect all seven cans in the series, shown here, before the end of the year. My Cheerwine sources report that there are still plenty cans out there yet to be redeemed so there is still the chance to win! Check out the complete contest details here

PrintLater this year, I will be doing another article about Cheerwine and its importance as a local North Carolina product. I will be including some recipes in that post and invite you to join in the fun. Send me your family’s favorite Cheerwine recipe. it doesn’t have to be original but if its not, be sure to credit the source; or if its an original recipe tell me a bit about the history.

My friends at Cheerwine will send coupons to everyone who submits a recipe and I’ll print three of the top recipes submitted.

Send me your recipe with your photo and contact info – Name, Street Address ( so we can send you your coupons) and email, plus a few words about why you love the recipe  – Heidi Billotto – at Heidi@HeidiCooks.com. Then, stay tuned and look for that second post to come out later this fall.

Meanwhile plan to attend the Cheerwine Centennial Celebration in Salisbury Sat May 20, noon to 8 pm and have a blast! Here’s to another 100 years of cheer!

Want to know more?

Where to buy: Cheerwine is available in supermarkets, restaurants, mass merchandisers and convenience stores in select states nationwide, across the state of North Carolina and on the company’s website at cheerwine.com.

Social Speak: Follow Cheerwine on Facebook at facebook.com/cheerwine; or on Twitter and Instagram @drinkcheerwine.

Hashtags: Always look for the #TellThemHeidiSendYou and #IllHaveWhatHeidisHaving Hashtags for all of my food, drink and restaurant recommendations.

When you post your photos from the Cheerwine Centennial Celebration on your social media, be sure to tag me and Cheerwine too, and use any of the fun Cheerwine  hashtags  #CheerInTheAir, #Cheertennial , #Cheerwine100 ,  #Cheerwine  & #Cheers

16298545_10154919280799085_6495336173437586267_nWant to taste or buy more after or before the May 20 celebration? Innes Street Drug Store (112 S Main St, Salisbury, NC 28144) has Cheerwine merchandise for sale and makes delicious Cheerwine floats and fudge.

In addition to the yearlong Cheerwine exhibits open all of 2017, the Rowan Museum in downtown Salisbury also has Cheerwine shirts for sale. For more information and museum hours, click here.

 

For more information on Cackalacky/Cheerwine Sweet Sauce, visit the Cackalacky Website here.

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More posts about culinary events, cooking classes, and restaurants you don’t want to miss coming soon.

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Greensboro, NC Getaway Plan A 3Day Weekend this Fall

 

heidi head shot 1 -In Need of a little getaway this fall season? Might I suggest that you look no further than North Carolina’s Triad region connecting three major cities all within a half hour drive of each other and about a hour and half in travel time from Charlotte, making a trip to any of the Triad cities –  High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro – worthy of a three day weekend status.

Fun to do my October 3 day weekend segment for WCNC’s Charlotte tOday on the city of Greensboro, NC. The details are all here in the post, but if you want to watch the video, scroll to the end and simply click on the link.

Greensboro, home to the sit in protests of the 1960s, Harlem Globetrotter “Curly” Neal and the place where Vick’s VaporRub was invented, is also know as the Gate City due to the heavy flow of railroad traffic that went in and out of the city in the late 1800s. Today Greensboro is still a major Amtrack  hub with trains arriving and leaving from The Greensboro Southern Railway Depot, now known as The Depot, originally built in 1899.

gro_stationinteriorHow to get to Greensboro, Nc

While Greensboro is an easy car ride from Charlotte, a fun nod to our state’s history would be to take the train for your three day weekend visit, and then uber or bike around the city as needed. Amtrack tickets from Charlotte start at just $19 one way and you can book a reservation for your bike as well. While the original Greensboro Depot is now the home to all sorts of transportation, a portion of the original train station still remains and makes for a fun and historic way to kick off your trip.

What to do in Greensboro

imagesOnce you get off the train at The Depot in downtown Greensboro, you are a quick walk or bike ride from the Greensboro Children’s Museum, a great place to spend some time with the kids.

One of the most fascinating exhibits for kids and adults alike is Greensboro’s Edible SchoolYard Garden, the only sanctioned Edible Schoolyard garden to be a major exhibit in a museum.

This working hands-on garden is used to teach kids about growing and planting, raising crops taking care of farm animals – the garden includes its own family of laying hens for fresh eggs, as well as taking care of and feeding the hungry in the community.

The garden is used as a major source of product for adult and children’s cooking classes taught year round int he museum kitchen. And chefs around town also teach at teh museum and use produce from the garden in their seasonal menus. For more information about regular events at the museum as well as the schedule of cooking classes, here’s where to find  the details.

Agriculture is king in North Carolina and there are lots of farms in around the Greensboro area with lots of fun events coming up this fall season – any one of them would be a great anchor around which to plan your three day weekend Greensboro getaway.

images-4Among them High Rock Farm, in Gibsonville, NC. The farm house on High Rock Road was originally used as a stage coach stay in the 1800s and has also been a tavern and a post office. Now it is home to High Rock Farm owner Richard Teague, who planted the first chestnut tree on the property in 1991. High Rock Farm is now the largest working and producing chestnut orchard in the mid-Atlantic Region. The farm celebrates it harvest each year with an annual Chestnut Roasting Festival, this year on Nov 6, from noon – t5 pm. Admission is just $8 per person. The fun includes hay rides through the orchard, music, food trucks, tours of the historic home and more. Kids under 10 are free. For more info HighRockFarm.com 

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Goat Lady Dairy in Julian, NC, a stones throw away from Greensboro is home to a large goat cheese making operation and the dairy offers monthly cheese-centric 5 course Dinners at the Dairy as well as farm and dairy tours. The remaining dinner dates for this year are Nov 11 and 12 and December 2 and 3, so make your reservations now. For more information visit GoatLadyDairy.com

If you, like me love to shop for housewares and china, old and new and find the fun is int he hunt for that can’t live without piece; then you simply cannot miss a trip to Greensboro’s own Replacement’s.

Located at 1089 Knox Rd. in McLeansville, NC, just outside of Greensboro, Replacement’s is  the world’s largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver, and collectibles.

great-wall-of-china-in-replacementsThe 500,000-square-foot facilities (the size of 8 football fields) house an  inventory of 12 million pieces in more than 425,000 patterns, some more than 100 years old. You can order from Replacements online, look for a missing piece to your grandmothers good china or browse through the inventory online, but there there is nothing quite like being there and to my mind this one of kind shopping extravanganza is worth the 3 day weekend jaunt in and of itself. For more info, or to buy or sell your favorite china pieces visit the website here

unknown-2Where to stay for the trip?

Lots of choices from the historic, charming  and said to be haunted 1903 era boutique Biltmore Hotel in the downtown area  – an easy walk from the Amtrack station. Visit the website for more info or reservations

unknown-1To The O’Henry,  an elegant hotel located a short and easy 4-minute walk from the Shops At Friendly Center.  Beautiful guest rooms have tall ceilings, unique furnishings, plush beds and en suite bathrooms with soaking tubs and separate dressing rooms. Your reservation includes a free Southern-style breakfast is served in the pavilion or the garden, while afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails are available in the lovely Craftsman-style lobby. For reservations and more info visit the website here

proximity-hotel-photos-exterior-hotel-informationThe Proximity , the sister property to the O’Henry, may be one of my favorite hotels in the area. Its the first green LEED hotels in the country with strict sustainable practices designed to save energy and help the environment while still offering a luxurious place to stay. 100 sun panels on the hotel roof, heat the water in the hotel and the energy the elevators create going down, allow them to go up as well. Bicycles are available for guests to ride on the nearby five-mile greenway that extends to over 75 miles of trails and routes throughout the Greensboro area. For reservations and more info visit the website here

Where to eat in Greensboro

Once you have your hotel reservations and have honed in on what you want to see and do in the area, you’ll need to decide what and where to eat. The restaurants at both The Proximity Hotel – Print Works Bistro , fresh local ingredients used to create fabulous comfort food;  and at the O’Henry Hotel – Green Valley Grill – informally elegant interiors serving seasonal favorites in a Mediterranean style-  are both excellent choices.

4213690For burgers, beef, vegetarian and otherwise, Hops Burger Bar  with two locations in Greensboro, is a popular local favorite you won’t want to miss. Parking is tight and there is often a wait, but its worth  each and every juicy bite-o-burger! If Mexican is more your style, go eat where nearly every chef in the Greensboro area sent me – El Camino Real – an understated Mexican joint in a strip center  at 4131 E. Spring Garden Street.

undercurrent-outside-gsoFinally for more white table cloth dining, check out Undercurrent Restaurant in downtown Greensboro, Listed as one of the “Top Ten Restaurants in Greensboro” by USA Today, the focus at Undercurrent is farm to fork. Sourcing all sorts of local ingredients from farms large and small, Chef de Cuisine, Michael Harken­reader  and the Undertcurrent’s team will wow you for sure. Open for lunch dinner and brunch, Don’t miss the opportunity to eat at Undercurrent soon!

Here is the link the to segment I did on Charlotte Today with hosts Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson sharing a couple of reasons why you need to think about visiting Greensboro this fall. Enjoy!

#TellThemHeidiSentYou

 

For more info on all that is happening in Greensboro, North Carolina, visit the Convention and Visitors Bureau   #TellThemHeidiSentYou