Founded in NC: a timeline of the state’s most iconic products and brands

It’s not just Pepsi-Cola and Krispy Kreme — we’ve created a timeline of iconic companies, products, and brands. - 2021-10-15T160410.544

Cheerwine inventor Lewis D. Peeler pictured with a Cheerwine route truck.

Photo via Carolina

Since North Carolina became a state in 1789, it’s cranked out some pretty noteworthy items. Some, like the Shibumi Beach Shade + The Nugget, are newer innovations, 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 in Greensboro by a pharmacist from Selma 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 pounds of raw peanuts.


  • This cherry-flavored soda was born in the basement of Salisbury entrepreneur Lewis D. Peeler in 1917. Its name is derived from “cheer” (for pleasure) and “wine” (for its deep red hue). Pro tip: NC-based chains Biscuitville + Cookout serve Cheerwine at their locations. The annual Cheerwine Festival takes place 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 US, they’ve even been included in the NC Chamber’s Coolest Things Made in NC awards.

Krispy Kreme

  • 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 doughnuts over the course of 5 miles in just 1 hour.

Texas Pete

  • Interestingly enough, this hot sauce hails from nowhere near Texas, but rather Winston-Salem, circa 1929. Did you know 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.