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Cheerwine wants to go national

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Cheerwine officials said Tuesday they hope the soft drink can be readily available in all 50 states by the company’s 100th anniversary.
That would be six years from now.
Cheerwine calls it the “Vision 50 X 100.”
For the Salisbury company, it’s not unlike the day in the early 1960s when President Kennedy promised that the United States would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Cheerwine wants to be a national brand by 2017, a century after L.D. Peeler invented the cherry-flavored soft drink.
“It’s a goal we think we can achieve, but it won’t be easy,” said Cliff Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of Cheerwine Bottling and Carolina Beverage Corp.
Cheerwine, whose predominant market is in the Southeast, is now in 12 states.
Tom Barbitta, vice president of marketing for Cheerwine, also unveiled Tuesday the company’s new “Legend” advertising push, which uses the tagline, “Born in the South. Raised in a glass.”
Barbitta said Tennessee will be “a big proving ground” for the brand because of its partnership there with Pepsi Bottling Co. Cheerwine is part of the Pepsi set on grocery store shelves in Tennessee, in Pepsi vending machines and, Barbitta hopes, available in the Pepsi line of fountain drinks soon.
If Cheerwine does well in Tennessee, Pepsi “might be interested in going other places with us,” Barbitta said. But he and Ritchie stressed that Cheerwine will partner with the best distribution opportunities available as it expands market by market.
Cheerwine started shipping finished product to Tennessee in January. The company hopes it can soon be produced there, too.
Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Salisbury Post.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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