Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we explore North Carolina. Nicknamed the Tar Heel State, it sounds like we might get a little dirty, so let’s tread carefully. Oh hell, a careful pace has never been my way… let’s jump right in:
Motto: “To be, rather than to seem” – That slogan is a real thinker…
Food: In North Carolina, it’s all about barbecue, with the subject extending into all realms of the state, even its politics. This is because there are two competing styles, Lexington and Eastern, with proponents of each wanting their favourite to be the official state method. Pig Pickin’ barbecues, using whole pigs, are a North Carolina tradition.
Drink: I’ve always preferred Pepsi over Coca-Cola, and I have Caleb Bradham of North Carolina to thank for the beverage. In 1893, the drugstore clerk created Brad’s Drink, renaming it Pepsi-Cola in 1898. Today, Pepsi is its own food and beverage conglomerate, while Bradham was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1923, returning to the pharmacy world.
Site to See: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the country. Found on North Carolina’s border with Tennessee, hiking and camping seem to be major attractions of the area. Other North Carolina destinations include Grandfather Mountain and its Mile-High Swinging Bridge and Chimney Rock State Park.
Street: The Blue Ridge Parkway, nicknamed ‘America’s favorite drive’, provides a scenic 469-mile route, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia. Highlights of the North Carolina portion, include Daniel Boone’s Trace, Looking Glass Rock, the Devil’s Courthouse mountaintop and many other places of interest.
TV Show: The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight seasons and 249 episodes, followed by spinoff series Mayberry R.F.D. airing for an additional three seasons and 78 episodes. The made-for-TV movie Return to Mayberry served as a series finale, giving fans a chance to say goodbye to classic characters such as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Deputy Barney Fife and others.
Movie: The Peanut Butter Falcon, starring Shia LaBeouf, Zack Gottsagen and Dakota Johnson, tells the story of a man with Down syndrome, who aspires to be a professional wrestler. He escapes from his assisted living facility, helped along on his journey by his social worker and a stranger he meets along the way. The movie was a sleeper hit and received mostly positive reviews.
Book/Author: William Sidney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was born in Greensboro. Porter was a short story writing machine, writing one each week for over a year during his most productive period. His most famous story is The Gift of the Magi, which has been adapted countless times. The O. Henry Award is given annually to the nation’s best short stories.
Fictional Character: Max Cady, villain of the movie Cape Fear, is one scary dude. Played by Robert Mitchum in the original and Robert De Niro in the remake, Cady will stop at nothing to get revenge on the lawyer who caused him to spend 14 years in prison for rape. For something lighter, there’s also Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr. from Talladega Nights.
Fictional City: Mayberry, from The Andy Griffiths Show universe, is based on Mount Airy, the hometown of series star, Andy Griffiths. The innocent little town, where everyone knows each other, can make one pine for simpler times. Mayberry Days is an annual festival celebrated in Mount Airy and the town’s Andy Griffith Museum has a number of pieces from the classic show.
Actor/Actress: Zach Galifianakis, best known for his role as Alan, in The Hangover trilogy, was born in Wilkesboro. Galifianakis’ other credits, include voice work in the films Puss in Boots and The Lego Batman Movie, while his Between Two Ferns talk show won back-to-back Emmy Awards for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program.
Song: Carolina In My Mind by James Taylor, was written while the singer was out of the country recording an album. The song is about his homesickness for North Carolina, where Taylor was raised. Taylor typically plays the track at his concerts and it has become an unofficial state song. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill uses the song extensively.
Band/Musician: This is a tough category to narrow down, with jazz legends Nina Simone, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk competing with country/bluegrass legends Earl Scruggs, Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis. Put them all together in a six-person steel cage match and I’m still not sure who emerges victorious, but the music will at least be good.
People: World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, was born in Pinehurst. McMahon is credited with revolutionizing professional wrestling, when he turned his company (then the World Wrestling Federation) into a national phenomenon. His menagerie of flashy characters, combined with high production values forever changed the industry.
Animal: Ham the Chimp, the first hominid sent into space, lived his final years at the North Carolina Zoo. Ham got his name from the acronym for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, in New Mexico, which trained him for his 1961 mission. After dying, Ham’s remains were returned to New Mexico and buried at the International Space Hall of Fame.
Invention: North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) can be credited with many great innovations. Among them, the Universal Product Code (barcode) found on merchandise in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australasia; Astroturf; cell phone technology advancements; LED lighting; and a potential HIV cure. RTP is the largest research park in the country.
Crime: Henry Louis Wallace (aka the Charlotte Strangler/Taco Bell Strangler) murdered 10 women in Charlotte, along with another victim in South Carolina. Most of his North Carolina victims were either friends or co-workers of his girlfriend or worked with him at Taco Bell. Wallace even attended a few of the funerals. He was sentenced to death and remains on death row.
Law: When a single man and single woman check into a hotel room together as a married couple, this makes them legally wed. Talk about an easy way to avoid expensive nuptials and all the drama that comes with it.
Sports Team: North Carolina has three professional teams, with the Panthers (NFL) and Hurricanes (NHL), as well as the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. Also, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke University Blue Devils rivalry is a among the best in college basketball, while the NASCAR Hall of Fame can be found in Charlotte, where the racing series first ran in 1949.
Athlete: North Carolina was selected as site of the NASCAR Hall of Fame due to its long and storied history in racing. That includes being the home state of driver Richard Petty, who holds the record for NASCAR wins with 200. This earned him the nickname The King. Dale Earnhardt Sr. and son Dale Earnhardt Jr., are also natives of North Carolina.
Famous Home: The Biltmore Estate, a 255-room mansion, in Asheville, is the largest home in the country. On the grounds, visitors can also find beautiful gardens, shopping and dining options and even a winery. Asheville is also known for its many craft breweries, with the area having the most breweries per capita in the U.S.
Urban Legend: Roanoke Colony was the first American settlement established by England. It is also known as the Lost Colony because when its governor, John White, left for England and returned nearly three years later, everyone was gone. The only trace of them was the word “croatoan” carved into a tree. Were they massacred by Native American tribes? Did they join those same groups? The debate rages on.
Museum: The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, found in Hatteras Village, documents the long history of shipwrecks to take place along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. More than 600 vessels have been lost in the area, including Blackbeard’s infamous pirate ship Queen Anne’s Revenge. Also on display is a German Enigma machine from a sunken submarine.
Firsts: As a fan of the game, it bears mentioning the first mini golf course was opened in Pinehurst, in 1916, by James Barber. When he completed his course, set amongst gardens and fountains, the story goes Barber looked at his creation and said, “This’ll do.” The course was named Thistle Dhu, as a result. Putt-Putt golf was also established in North Carolina.
Company: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts was founded in 1937, in Winston-Salem, where it is headquartered today. The business was launched by Vernon Rudolph, after purchasing a recipe from a New Orleans chef. Annually, the Krispy Kreme Challenge sees competitors run five miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, then return, all in under an hour. The event benefits the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
Events: North Carolina license plates read “First In Flight”, because the Wright Brothers – Orville and Wilbur – completed the first motor-operated airplane flight in the state, in 1903. To commemorate their achievement, the Wright Brothers National Memorial was erected in Kill Devil Hills. There’s also a replica of the brother’s hangar at the site.
Miscellaneous: Christmas Town USA takes place each year in the small town of McAdenville (population 651, as of the 2010 census). Starting in 1956, the entire suburb is decorated with Christmas lights, drawing an estimated 600,000 vehicles to visit annually. The attraction is ranked as one of the country’s best holiday light displays.
The New Cherry Bounce
- 1.5 oz Cherry Whiskey
- Top with Cranberry Juice
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Splash of Club Soda
- Garnish with a Cherry
The Cherry Bounce – created at the legendary Isaac Hunter’s Tavern in Raleigh and a favourite beverage of George Washington – is a consensus choice for a North Carolina cocktail, but it basically just takes cherries, sugar and a base alcohol and let’s them blend together for a period of time. Therefore, I went with this serve-when-needed variation, subbing whiskey for vodka.