A timeline of NC’s most iconic products


Cheerwine bottle caps. I Photo by @eck0l0ve

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Since North Carolina became a state in 1789, it’s cranked out some pretty noteworthy items. Some, like livermush, are regionally known and loved, but others — like Krispy Kreme + the barcode — are so iconic they enjoy national acclaim.

Let’s explore the timeline of NC’s most famous products, shall we?

Vicks VapoRub

  • This menthol-based topical ointment commonly used to treat coughs and relieve muscle aches + pain was created by a pharmacist in Selma, NC in 1890.


  • Arguably NC’s most famous product, Pepsi-Cola — originally named “Brad’s Drink” after inventor Caleb Bradham — was created in New Bern in 1893 as a way to help with digestion + energy. Today, it’s the biggest rival of Coca-Cola, the world’s most popular soft drink.

Lance Crackers

  • Ever enjoyed the simple tastiness of a peanut butter cracker? Give props to Charlotte food broker Philip Lance, who came up with the treats in 1913 after obtaining + roasting 500 lbs of raw peanuts.


  • This cherry-flavored soda was born in the basement of Salsbury entrepreneur Lewis D. Peeler in 1917. Its name is derived from “cheer” (for pleasure) and “wine” (for its deep red hue). A thoroughly modern way to enjoy it? A bourbon-Cheerwine slushie from Buxton Chicken Palace. And you can always hit the road for the annual Cheerwine Festival held in downtown Salisbury each May.

Mount Olive Pickles

  • Yeah, they’re a pretty big dill. Launched in 1926, these purveyors of pickled goodness are not only the largest privately held pickle company in the country, they’ve even been included in the NC Chamber’s Coolest Things Made in NC awards.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

  • Folks have been chowing down on Krispy Kreme’s fluffy, yeast-based doughnuts since Vernon Rudolph concocted them for his small, Old Salem-based coffeeshop in 1937. They’re so beloved, there’s even an annual Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh that challenges runners to eat 12 donuts over the course of 5 miles and 1 hour.

Texas Pete

  • Interestingly enough, this hot sauce hails from nowhere near Texas, but rather Winston Salem, circa 1929. DYK it’s the third best-selling hot sauce in the country?

Putt Putt

  • Founded in Fayetteville by Don Clayton in 1954, Putt Putt, or mini golf, has become a global phenomenon loved by all ages.

Universal Product Code

  • Also known as a barcode, this universal supermarket scanner + label was created in Raleigh in 1969 by IBM employee George Lauer.


  • Launched in Charlotte in 1977, let us all give thanks for these biscuits and fried chicken, which aren’t only delicious, but have been named the No. 1 cure for a hangover, too.

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