Monday, November 7, 2011

Pop Culture: President Obama Drinks "Cheerwine," A Traditional Southern Soda

Don't tell Michelle?: In North Carolina, President's food pit stops included loads of candy and BBQ, as well as a beloved regional beverage...
His wife is running a national campaign to encourage healthy eating, but President Obama enjoyed a nice cold bottle of Cheerwine during his Oct. 17th visit to Mast General Store in Boone, North Carolina, where he also purchased a very big supply of candy. Mast's community relations manager Sheri Moretz confirmed the President's selection to Obama Foodorama, after the White House today released the photo, above, of the President drinking a scarlet-colored beverage at the store's checkout counter. Cheerwine, a cola, is billed by its maker as the "singular soft drink of the South," and it's a customer favorite at Mast's. Moretz described the taste as "pretty unique, like Mr. Pibb but more cherry."

"It's one of our top sellers," Moretz said. "Cheerwine is particularly popular because you just don't see glass bottles for sodas anymore."

President Obama enjoyed his Cheerwine during one of several food pit stops he made in North Carolina during his three-day American Jobs Act bus tour. He took to joking about all the traditional, regional delights he was eating while hopping off his armored black bus.

"Don't tell Michelle exactly what was on the menu," the President said to an excited audience in a high school gym, as he described a take-out luncheon platter of smoked pork barbecue, acquired during an eat n' greet stop at Countryside Barbecue in the town of Marion.

They likely serve Cheerwine too; it has been produced since 1917, according to the company website. it was first created in Salisbury, North Carolina, and is now sold across the continental US by mail order and at brick and mortar stores.

President purchased several pounds of candy...
The President during his visit to Mast loaded a wicker bucket with maple nut clusters, macaroons, and York Peppermint Patties from the store's vast selection, which is arrayed in tubs on the sales floor. (Above, the President chooses candy)

"He bought several pounds of candy," Moretz said. "I think the Secret Service was helping him make his choices."

A big fan of candy, the President in October complained about the overly healthy White House Halloween treats, and more candy was added to the treat bags in response.

The President's other purchases...
The President spent about $125 at Mast General Store for his purchases, and paid cash, according to Moretz. he also bought a piggy bank and a key chain with the store's logo on one side, and the phrase "A house is not a home without a dog" on the other side. Mr. Obama during his visit petted a little black dog that looked like a miniature version of First Dog Bo (above).

"Bo says hi," the President told the dog's owner.

The store had just about fifteen minute's notice before the President arrived, Moretz said, and everyone was very excited, of course.

As for the "official" White House position on soda? It's served at White House functions, and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass has said that the White House will never get behind a soda tax or a soda "ban" as part of the First Lady's efforts to end childhood obesity.

“This issue is not caused by one drink,” Kass said. “It’s about a much broader food landscape.”

Candy will also suffer no White House ban, though Mrs. Obama earlier this month announced that she "confiscates" her daughter's Halloween candy after a couple of days.

Mast General Store has several locations, and the one the President visited is at at 630 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607. Phone: (866) 367-6278.

*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; others by AP/pool

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