The company had visions of expanison and Salisbury, NC became a great choice to them because of the well established railroad system. The railroad was very important to them because it would be needed to haul the large barrels of syrup that would be needed to produce the soft drink. It was also very important for future growth due to Salisbury’s central location along the East coast.
A local business man by the name of Mr. L.D. Peeler just happened to have a general wholesale store that was located near the train depot. Mr. Peeler had intrest in the soft drink business ever since the early 1900’s. His store had a basement that would be perfect for the bottling and it was an ideal fit. Mint Cola awarded Mr. Peeler and a group of investors this bottling franchise and they quickly began producing about 160 cases of Mint Cola a day from the basement of the building. The photo above is Mr. Peeler with his very first delivery truck in 1913.
The train depot quickly became a hustle and bustle spot in Salisbury. The arriving shipments of Mint Cola’s barrels took a backseat to the men preparing for World War I. In 1917 the American Red Cross opened a kitchen at the depot to feed all the troops that were passing through town.
The War brought a major sugar shortage that made for hard times in the soft drink industry. Many of them were forced to close or look to alternative sweeteners, such as honey or molasses. Sadly, Mint Cola went bankrupt in 1917 and Mr. Peeler and that same group of investors bought the stock of their regional franchise and decided to change it’s name to the Carolina Beverage Corporation. Although the name of the company had changed, they continued to make Mint Cola. During this same time, Mr. Peeler and his partners had discovered the popularity of cherry-flavored fountain drinks and believed a market existed for a cherry-based soft drink.
Later in the year of 1917 a flavor salesman from St. Louis sold Mr. Peeler on a unique cherry flavoring that was derived from oil of almond. This cherry flavor gave a natural sweetness to the drink and made it taste sweeter than other soft drinks with the same amount of sugar. He blended this flavor along with 11 others and the Mint Cola base to create CHEERWINE. Soft drinks were often named for there color, hence the name Ginger Ale and Root Beer just to name a few. Mr. Peeler felt it was only fitting to call his new drink CHEERWINE for it’s burgandy wine color and cheerful bubbles. This 1919 photo above shows both Mint Cola and CHEERWINE being produced. Mint Cola continued to come off the production line up until the 1930’s. However the Great Depression, along with Coca-Cola effectively cornering the cola market made it hard for the Carolina Beverage Corporation to produce both products. So, it had to choose only one to continue to produce and it’s most popular brand at the time was CHEERWINE.
CHEERWINE quickly began to grow and became a popular drink thoughout the peidmont of North Carolina. As the company’s success grew, Mr. Peeler had the CHEERWINE trademark registered in 1926. Peeler knew he was onto something special and started focusing on the company’s future. In 1927 he started another bottling company in Charlotte, NC (which was later sold to Sun-Drop Bottling in 1976) that helped extend the market. Sadly, in 1931 Mr. Peeler passed away, leaving a strong foundation to build upon. He left his vision with his son Mr. C.A. Peeler who, like his father, had the same passion and good business sense to keep CHEERWINE moving forward. Mr. C.A. Peeler worked hard to increase production and expand the product to other areas of North Carolina. The photo above is the sales team in front of the old building in 1939.
The 1940’s brought continued growth into Western North Caroina and parts of up state South Carolina. After World War II, CHEERWINE began producing more advertising to assist in this growth. Before the 1940’s, the company did not really do a lot of advertising until the A&M; Sign Company out of Lynchburg, VA was contracted to produce many different signs for CHEERWINE at this time.
Flash forward to 1980 and Carolina Beverage Corporation responds to the health and fitness rage by introducing Diet CHEERWINE. In 1981, the compnay developed a 10-year plan to double the company’s distribution. Mr. Mark Ritchie, great-grandson of Mr. L.D. Peeler and grandson of Mr. C.A. Peeler was in charge of this expansion. Mr. Ritchie increased spending for market research, advertising, and promotions. In 1986, the company reached it’s target, years before its goal. The company continues to expand distribution at about 10% each year, adding new markets primarly in the southeast. Mr. Ritchie has since become President of the company and has been a very important part of CHEERWINE success, to date. The photo above is of the old building that has since been restored and is home to local business downstairs, while the upstairs has been sold as condos. The photo below is of the new building that is located off of Jake Alexender Blvd. in Salisbury.
From CHEERWINE’S expantion to Norway in 2003 to the company giving-a-way a new home in 2005, things sure have turned out great for this local Carolina company. This soft drink has gave us some wonderful memories, and things are sure looking good for it’s future. This little homemade webpage is just my small way of keeping the history alive. If you can help with any rare photos or dates, please email so I can share them with everyone. Please click on the icon below to visit the next page of CHEERWINE history, and enjoy more of this great soft drinks past.