Salisbury’s Cheerwine, A Favorite Across the Piedmont

1949 Cheerwine Sign

A circa 1949 sign advertising Cheerwine. Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

On January 27, 1931, Cheerwine inventor Lewis D. Peeler died in Salisbury.

Born in 1866, Peeler studied at a local Lutheran college and in Virginia before entering business. He tried his hand at a number of different enterprises, including farming and wholesaling, before beginning a soda business in 1913.

That year, Peeler and other Rowan County businessmen started a bottling franchise with Mint Cola in the basement of his store on Council Street near the train depot in Salisbury. In 1917, he formed the Carolina Beverage Corporation, using a cherry flavor derived from oil of almond to produce a beverage that used less sugar due to rationing concerns.

The sparkling soda, named ‘cheer’ for pleasure and ‘wine’ for its deep red color, inspired the slogan “For health and pleasure.”

LD Peeler in a Truck

L. D. Peeler with a truck, circa 1913.

The company was renamed Piedmont Cheerwine Bottling Company in 1924 to increase brand recognition throughout North Carolina, and Peeler first registered the Cheerwine trademark in 1926. In 1927, he started another bottling company in Charlotte. That business was later sold to Sun-Drop Bottling in 1976.

Peeler continued to be active in other businesses throughout his life, becoming manager of the Yadkin Hotel in 1926 and serving as director of the First National Bank of Salisbury.

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