Changes cheery and not

seen in downtown Salisbury, N.C.

I noticed that many things had changed downtown on my first return to Salisbury, N.C. after leaving in the early 1980s. There were not one, but two wine shops downtown, right across the street from each other. An actual coffee bar. And an Asian restaurant not decorated with red paper lanterns. The beautiful bookstore where I did a cookbook signing, Literary Bookpost, had once been a Rack Room shoe store (where, I found out later, the chain used to send its ugliest shoes on purpose).

In less happy changes, the Coffee Cove was gone. It was a counter-top downtown diner where I first met peanut butter pie. And the general store – a real, live general store, where they had anything you could possibly be looking for, if the staff could only find it – had gone touristy.

However, some things had not changed, as this sign bears witness to the town’s continuing fascination with its native drink, Cheerwine. I had never heard of the stuff when I arrived there in 1979, revved up for my first job out of journalism school. By the time I left, I had seen just about everything done with Cheerwine possible, from cakes to Jell-O molds – but not this. In memory, I used the soft drink in a recipe in “Wings: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack.”

 

Breakfast of Carolinians

I spent my formative post-college years at The Salisbury Post in Salisbury, N.C. I learned many things there that hadn’t been taught in journalism school, including: Never accept painted turkey bones from the town crazy lady, pigeons don’t belong in the computer server room and reporting on a 4-H fair winner can lead to a family feud. (That last led to immortal words from my managing editor, “It’s not the scandals that get you, it’s the dairy cows.”)

Because Salisbury is the proud home of Cheerwine, the soft drink was a prominent ingredient in numerous dishes at every potluck. A Cheerwine Jell-O mold stands out in my mind.

I’m surprised it took this long to marry two of the state’s food products, but it has finally happened: Krispy Kreme doughnuts filled with Cheerwine creme. The specialty doughnuts will be available for the month of July only, according to the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, which also writes that a dozen will be delivered ceremonially to North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue on Wednesday morning. Wonder if she’ll be wearing that hazmat-looking bee suit.