Almost every summer since before I could walk or talk, my family took a weeklong vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina. We would drive down from my hometown of Canton, Ohio and rent a house, often bringing along grandparents, aunts and uncles. On the way, we’d always stop at the Food Lion to stock up on supplies—fruit and veggies, plenty of pasta (we’re Italian, so there was always pasta), beach snacks and, of course, a case of Cheerwine. If you’re not familiar with this Southern delicacy, Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink that’s been made by the same North Carolina family since 1917.
My parents weren’t the hippie types who didn’t let us have soda (or pop, as we called it), but it wasn’t something they had around the house all the time, either. But during that one week in the summer, they would let my sister and me drink Cheerwine until our hearts were content (and filled with sugar), very few questions asked. Though we haven’t been back to Sunset Beach in some years, I often long for warm mornings on the beach spent sipping a cold Cheerwine and watching the cherry-red liquid stain the perfectly white sand.