How We Fell In Love

As told by Brian Bailey, Co-Founder of Old CarolinaCheerwine Tumbler

Like so many folks in the Midwest, I have had many opportunities to travel through the Carolinas. For some, it’s vacations in the Outer Banks, Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach. For others, it’s a visit with relatives in Charlotte or Raleigh. My most intimate visits to North Carolina were the result of my occupation as a salesman, a traveling salesman who peddled software in the newspaper industry.

North Carolina has more than its share of newspapers. Many road trips across the state were often five and even six day trips. For me, long days of selling were always punctuated with a visit to a local barbecue joint. I could always find succulent pork shoulders that had been cooking in pits all day just waiting for my arrival. Of course, if I were visiting the Goldsboro News-Argus, lunch would be at Wilbur’s. If an appointment were scheduled at the Greensboro News-Record, dinner might be at Stamey’s. And any presentation at the Lexington Dispatch involved a visit to Wayne Monk at Lexington Barbecue.

Introduced to Cheerwine

My first such “business” trip was in the fall of 1992. It was one of those unseasonably hot weeks where every businessman’s tie was in his coat pocket, handkerchiefs wiped the sweat off brows as early as 9 am and jokes about feeding ice to chickens so they wouldn’t lay hard boiled eggs were commonplace. After a long day of meetings, an associate took me to dinner for barbecue and before we could order, he asked our server for 2 Cheerwines. “No wine for me,” I said. “Give me something cold and refreshing.” “Sweetie, you ain’t from around here” the friendly waitress commented. I apologized and asked “What’s a Cheerwine?”

What is Cheerwine?

“It’s a soda” is an advertising campaign Cheerwine would implement years later. I guess lots of folks outside of the Carolinas were unfamiliar with this almost 100 year old institution. I remember my first taste of this ice cold beverage bringing a smile to my face. It was more cherry than cola and more “bubbly” than anything I had tasted before. I called it “liquid candy” and my associate proudly referred to it as the “nectar of the Carolinas.” I had to have another.

From that point forward, every barbecue sandwich I ate in North Carolina was paired with an ice cold Cheerwine. If my associate were driving to my office in Ohio, he knew I was willing to split the cost of his gas for a few cases of Cheerwine. When my high school friend and barbecue restaurant partner and I made a few research trips along the barbecue trail, we often called ahead to see if the restaurant carried our favorite drink.

Here We Are Today…

Over the years, my work with newspapers actually took me to towns all across the United States. And my hunger for my favorite food, barbecue, took me to some of the best joints in Texas, Kansas City and Tennessee. But nothing ever compared to the experiences I had in the Carolinas. In retrospect, I am 100% certain it was because only in the Carolinas did I have Cheerwine. And that’s the reason Ohio now has Old Carolina Barbecue Company and not Old Texas BBQ or Old Kansas City BBQ. So it’s fitting, that Old Carolina now introduces this unique soda with its sparklicious taste and one-of-a-kind personality to our loyal customers.

Click here to see Brian and customers talk about the "nectar of the Carolinas"

Click here to read "14 things you didn't know about Cheerwine."  And, be sure to check out #5.


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