North Carolina is known for many things. Celebrities, politicians, athletes, historic landmarks, well-known attractions, and more have made our state famous. Other additions to the list are the different food and drink products that originated in North Carolina. Many people are familiar with these products, but not their history. Let’s take a quick look at some of the famous products that are made in North Carolina.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Right here in Winston-Salem, Krispy Kreme was founded by Vernon Rudolph in 1937. He rented a building in Old Salem and with a yeast-raised recipe from a New Orleans chef, created the original doughnuts that we now know today. Rudolph started selling the doughnuts to local grocery stores for 25 cents a dozen and the rest is history. Krispy Kreme doughnuts come in many different flavors, but (in my opinion) there is nothing better than a warm original glazed doughnut melting in your mouth. And don’t worry—Krispy Kreme has locations throughout the world if you ever get a hankering when outside of North Carolina.
Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Another Winston-Salem native creation is Texas Pete. Contrary to the popular notion that the hot sauce originated in Texas, the Garner family, which consisted of father Samuel, “Mother Jane,” and brothers Thad, Ralph, and Harold, launched their famous hot sauce in Winston-Salem by making it on their family’s stove. Since the 1940s, Texas Pete hot sauce has grown to include buffalo-wing sauce, chili sauce, pepper sauce, seafood cocktail sauce, and honey mustard sauce.
Started in L.D. Peeler’s grocery store in Salisbury during World War I, Cheerwine celebrated the 100th anniversary of its creation in 2017. This cherry-flavored soda’s recipe has been passed down throughout the Peeler family and the drink can be found in the Southern states and California. Cheerwine and its history are so famous in the state that a whole festival is dedicated to the drink. Each year, the Cheerwine Festival is held in downtown Salisbury. Attendees can enjoy Carolina pulled pork, covered in a Cheerwine barbecue sauce, merchandise, music, and more.
Mt. Olive Pickles
Named after its location, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company was founded in 1926 in Mount Olive, North Carolina, and quickly became the largest privately-owned pickle company in the states. Today, Mt. Olive Pickles come in multiple varieties and are available in major grocery stores. The company’s efforts span more than just making pickles. The Mt. Olive Pickle Company supports the University of Mount Olive and created the Mt. Olive Pickle Company Foundation in 1994. Just like Cheerwine, Mt. Olive Pickles have their own celebration: a New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop in Mount Olive, in which a 3.5-foot lighted pickle is dropped from the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department truck.
One of the oldest products made in NC comes from 1898 in New Bern. Pharmacist Caleb Bradham developed a fountain drink, Pepsi-Cola, to help with digestion and increase a person’s energy. He began to offer this drink to patrons in his drugstore’s soda fountain. Only a few years later, in 1902, Bradham took his creation and turned it into a business. Fun fact: the soft drink’s name wasn’t always Pepsi. It started out as Brad’s Drink. Then, in 1898, it became Pepsi-Cola, and was changed again in 1961 when the drink became just Pepsi.
Peanut butter, cheese, and vanilla crème—the list goes on and on with the types available in Lance Crackers. In 1913, Philip Lance took 500 pounds of Virginia peanuts, roasted, and sold them. After the success of his peanut business took off, Lance started making peanut butter. To help people experience the full taste of the peanut butter, Lance’s wife and daughters put the food on two crackers, placed them together, and created the peanut butter sandwich. This led to the founding of the famous Lance Crackers.
There is always a special place in a North Carolinian’s heart for products made in our home state. The next time you go to the grocery store, a restaurant, or another place, and get one of these creations, you can now say you know the product’s history and true connection to the Tarheel state.
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