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Why cola became king

The South is the birthplace of all the big cola brands. Since the first Coca-cola was poured in Atlanta in 1886, it's become an American icon. For many of us, these drinks are part of key childhood memories. But whether we're loyal to Coke, Pepsi, or something else, we don't drink as much soda as we used to. So why do we care so much about these brands and does soda even matter in this new beverage age?


  • Ralph Ashworth, owner of Ashworth Drugs in Cary, NC
  • Sabrina Bengel, managing Partner of The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola in New Bern, NC
  • Jerry Avery, Pepsi fan and hobby historian
  • Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson, professor and department chair of American Studies at the University of Maryland
  • Rina Raphael, journalist and author of The Gospel of Wellness

Special thanks to Jordan Blackwell at the University of Maryland College Park for technical assistance.

  • You can find a transcript of the episode here.
Anisa Khalifa is an award-winning podcast producer and host at WUNC. She grew up in a public radio household, and fell in love with podcasts shortly before her friends convinced her to start one with them about Korean dramas. Since joining WUNC in 2021, Anisa has produced Me and My Muslim Friends, CREEP, Tested and Dating While Gray, and is the host of WUNC's weekly podcast The Broadside.
Jerad Walker is WUNC’s editor of narrative audio and podcasts. He joined the station in 2022 after nearly a decade at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
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