Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cheerwine, BBQ and NASCAR - It's a Carolina Thing


I wrote this story a couple of years ago for the North Carolina Writer’s Association as one of my contributions to an anthology about North Carolina. Cheerwine, as you’ll read below, is a burgundy color cherry cola drink similar to Dr. Pepper or RC Cola, Coke, or Pepsi. The distribution of Cheerwine has widened through the years and you can often find it where NEHI soft drinks are sold. I’ve read that most Fresh Markets now sell Cheerwine. You can also click the Cheerwine link to see if it available in your area. Feel free to substitute the cola of your choice if you can’t find Cheerwine. This is a versatile BBQ sauce that is good on chicken or pork.


Nothing says Carolina like Cheerwine, BBQ and NASCAR

Cheerwine, first bottled in 1917, is still a popular soft drink in North Carolina. Although this burgundy colored cherry soda with lots of bubbles is the red color of grapes, it doesn’t contain any wine or alcohol. During that era it wasn’t unusual to give it such a name. Other soft drinks of the time, such as ginger ale and root beer, combined a flavor description with the name of an alcoholic beverage. Cheerwine is as much a part of North Carolina culture as BBQ and NASCAR.

BBQ is serious business in North Carolina and there can be heated discussions on which sauce is the best, eastern or western style. Along the coast, easterners insist that their vinegar based sauce is the original American BBQ sauce and, when being served a pulled pork sandwich, it’s not unusual to be asked if you would like slaw on it. On the other hand, high in the western mountains, aficionados prefer a thicker tomato based sauce.

NASCAR and racing have deep southern roots in North Carolina. Well known NASCAR race car driver Junior Johnson, born in rural western North Carolina in 1931, was behind the wheel of his daddy’s pickup truck at eight. When he reached fourteen, he became part of the family business and delivered moonshine throughout the backwoods. Johnson was an aggressive driver and often found himself in the winner’s circle when his fellow moon shiners held informal races in their souped-up delivery vehicles. With a number of unofficial wins under his belt, Junior entered professional stock racing and went on to win forty seven poles and fifty NASCAR Winston Cup series races. In 2000 he was inducted into the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

The heart of NASCAR country is in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1949 NASCAR held its first strictly Stockcar Race at the Charlotte Speedway. Lowe’s Charlotte Motor Speedway, the one and a half mile super speedway, is where most drivers now call home. 

Tailgating before the races is part of a rich tradition for NASCAR spectators. Sometimes tailgating parties can last for days as fans gather around for simple, hearty meals cooked and served outdoors and prepared on either elaborate grills towed behind their trucks or the more simple Weber types. Southern-style BBQ meats play a starring role in the camaraderie of this ritual. Meals can range from being served on fancy linen tablecloths with silverware to simple help yourself foods piled high on paper plates. So if you’re headed to a NASCAR tailgating party, whip up a batch of this tasty western style Carolina BBQ sauce using Cheerwine instead of moon shine. Take it along to baste your grilled pork or chicken.

Combine three cups of Cheerwine, one and a half cups of ketchup, one quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, and one teaspoon each of chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano and paprika. Add one quarter teaspoon ground allspice, a couple of healthy dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about forty-five minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool. To perk up the flavor, add a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice, hot sauce to taste, and check for salt and pepper. Makes two to three cups. Use to baste pork or chicken during the last fifteen to twenty minutes of grilling. Feel free to add your own special touches. That’s the fun of BBQ - making it your own.

Cheerwine, BBQ and NASCAR. It’s a Carolina thing. 


I will be linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

48 comments:

  1. My daughter's MIL makes a great BBQ sauce..w/ a certain coke:) Cherry coke? I think..
    I've never tailgated..

    Sounds like a fun thing for people that are into it..:)

    I think I am the opposite:)

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  2. I'll just have the barbecue please. A little slaw on it will do just fine. Our younger son loves Cheerwine and is always in search of it. I hadn't thought of the alcohol references in some soft drinks. It's appropriate to know while watching "Prohibition".

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  3. It was a very interesting read Sam. I am not sure if I didn't first heare about Cheer Wine right here at My Carolina Kitchen.

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  4. My hubby loves BBQ anything, so he'd be delighted to find this on our dinner table. So pretty with the pop of green from your scallions! Have a great weekend, Sam~

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  5. Sam, this meal looks delicious! I've never heard of Cheerwine, it sounds interesting.

    Love the Junior Johnson story and the tailgating story. I just love tailgating - mostly football or soccer, I've never been to a NASCAR event, but I have friends who enjoy it.

    Thanks for a great BBQ recipe! Have a great day and Happy Cooking!

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  6. I had to laugh at the headline ~ it's so true! The recipe sounds (and looks) delicious. I have a recipe for something similar, but it uses regular old cola. It's delicious so I'll have to give this one a go when I move back East. Hope you're doing better!

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  7. Mmmhhhh, I love BBQ sauces! A scrumptious looking dish.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. Cheerwine..first time heard about it. The sauce looks extremely delicious.

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  9. Once again, a stellar photo. This truly made me lust for a taste of this. My husband would be thrilled if I made this, since he loves BBQ (he's from Kansas City). I've never seen this drink, but I'll have to do some online research and see if it's available anywhere.

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  10. Quel joli morceau de viandE et très bien parfumé comme j'aime
    Je te souhaite une agréable soirée
    Valérie.

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  11. I haven't had Cheerwine in ages!

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  12. Cheerwine might be my new favorite word! I love Carolina BBQ but lets not tell my Memphis born mom! Yummy recipe! Happy Saturday!

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  13. I've always been a Dr. Pepper fan, and I remember when it was a regional drink and my brothers and I were only able to sample it on a camping trip to Kentucky. We didn't understand why we couldn't get it in New York. I'm intrigued by Cheerwine - I kind of want to hunt some down ...

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  14. I’ll have to find Cheerwine when I go to North Carolina next – I have never heard of it. Barbecue sauce is not something that I had growing up in France. I have had some good home-made ones here in Georgia but have not tried making it. Once we went to Memphis, TN, to a restaurant where the specialty was “dry BBQ” I think and it was very yummy. For me, I rather go to a restaurant to have BBQ than try to fumble with a barbecue sauce at home. As for Nascar that is something that is intriguing to me – I mean I am intrigued as to why it is so popular here. But then people here would be intrigued to know why I like to watch the Tour de France non-stop for 3 weeks! The reason my husband usually says, is why they make 70 (or whatever number) flavors of ice creams!

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  15. I happen to be in Charlotte this weekend. My first granddaughter was born last week...
    I had a hair-raising trip into town.
    And I have only been comforted by the most wonderful people.
    I might need to search out some of that cheerwine and BBq before I head home :-)

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  16. Sam, I am drooling as I read the recipe! Have heard of using Coke and other soft drinks as marinades, but this one calls to me! As a proudly South African citizen, I like nothing more than a great braai... going to use this marinade for my next one!

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  17. Great looking plate as always. The sauce sounds very good and since Bev's headed over her to Ft Bragg, I'll have her pick up some Cheerwine and we'll give it a try. Thanks for all of the info.

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  18. My nephew married a North Carolinian and they served Cheerwine at the wedding! Now I am wishing I had some more - for the barbecue looks so rich enticing!

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  19. I've never heard of Cheerwine before but I see the Fresh Market in a nearby suburb does carry it. I'd love to try your BBQ sauce, it sounds delicious!

    Tailgating is a very popular thing in Wisconsin at UW Badger football games, Packer games and Brewers games.

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  20. I've never heard of this drink but the barbecue sauce sounds very interesting! (We do have Fresh Market here, wonder if they have it?)

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  21. Great recipe. Love that you gave this history. Yesterday our youngest son and his wife were here to visit.
    He is a devoted 100% Nacar fan and hero is Matt Kenseth; same year of birth etc. You can imagine last night, it was hard to keep a conversation; he kept running down to check on the race. He was one happy dude.
    REally enjoyed reading this and learning about Nascar.
    Rita

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  22. And now Junior Johnson gets to legally market his Midnight Moonshine, thankfully!

    Great article, Sam. And for pork, I follow the Piedmont style sauces. I was glad to see Cheerwine is now marketed in East TN.

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  23. Hi this is Nicole from Colie’s Kitchen I just discovered your blog and wanted to drop by and say hi. I am now a new follower. I would love to have you stop by Colie’s Kitchen if you get a chance. www.colieskitchen.com

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  24. I've never heard of Cheerwine, but rest assured if I see a bottle of it, you know I'll be grabbing it up. We have a stand at our Farmer's Market that has bottles and bottles of unique soda pop. I'm hoping to find it there. Great photos and this bbq sauce has officially made me hungry. :)

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  25. WOW!~ look at that sauce- it just screams goodness and richness and EAT ME! Who needs a piece of chicken or meat to eat it on- just give me a spoon! LOL!

    I have a great giveaway today for all cooks- come by and enter if you get a chance- have a great day!

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  26. David will be all over this sauce in no time flat. We are headed back to Florida next month.

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  27. Look absolutely nice dear Sam, nice post, gloria

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  28. Sam I love this recipe, thanks so much. Been looking for a BBQ sauce to use with Pepsi for my New Bern blog. I'll give you the credit, of course.

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  29. I love reading about these products from your corner of the world Sam - cheerwine - I've never heard of it but it sounds wonderful!

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  30. First time I've heard of Cheerwine, Sam. But we have a Fresh Market here so I'm going to check it out this afternoon. Gosh, that sauce looks fabulous!

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  31. this looks absolutely mouthwatering!! the sauce sounds divine - thanks so much!!
    mary x

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  32. I make a very good BBQ sauce, yours look so good.

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  33. this is a fun post tribute to NC and looks tasty

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  34. this is a fun post tribute to NC and looks tasty

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  35. So happy to be a follower of your blog. It is so wonderful and tasty.. Susie

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  36. I've never tasted Cheerwine, but I do have a husband that loves BBQ. He likes it all - pork, chicken, beef, etc. He is always on the lookout for different places to eat BBQ.

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  37. My parents moved from South Florida to the western part of North Carolina...I will be up for Thanksgiving. I think I may have to seek out Cheerwine just to say I tried it too.

    As always, great post.

    Velva

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  38. Dear Sam, Loved reading this little bit of history. The bbq sauce sounds really good. Making your own is always so much better. Blessings, Catherine

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  39. I like reading about the local area goodies! This BBQ sauce looks great!

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  40. Oh wow, that piece of meat looks incredible!! It looks moist and full of juicy, succulent, flavor! Oh how I wish I could have a bite :)

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  41. Sam, I just wrote you a long note and blogger ate it! I was saying that I love to hear about local traditions and great food. I had no idea that NASCAR had it's roots deep in NC!
    And I have never heard of Cheerwine. Don't you just love that name?
    Bobby us using the smoker this weekend and smoking a big beef brisket. I'm going to slather it with your Cheerwine BBQ sauce! I will substitute Dr. Pepper, but I'm calling it Cheerwine!
    What a great post, my friend!
    xo Yvonne

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  42. I must try your bbq recipe! Looks so good!

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  43. I'm not a fan of soft drinks (or NASCAR) but I love BBQ and I must say that sauce sounds worth a try!

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  44. BBQ and Cheerwine are great combinations. Great food. I enjoy your column in the Cherokee Scout, too.

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  45. Sam, I'm going to make this sauce. I, along with my parents, are all from NC and grew up drinking cheerwine. Now in Florida I can't get it but I will be taking some home with me when I go up for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to try this! You are so right- Cheerwine, BBQ and Nascar are the heart of NC and all go together!

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. If you leave a comment with a question or that requires an answer, please leave an address or way for me to get in touch with you. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam