A nationally-famous cuisine from North Carolina is pork barbecue. However, there are strong regional differences and rivalries over the sauces and method of preparation used in making the barbecue. Eastern North Carolina pork barbecue uses a vinegar and red pepper based sauce and the “whole hog” is cooked, thus using both white and dark meat. The “capital” of eastern Carolina barbecue is usually considered to be the town of Wilson, near Raleigh. Western North Carolina pork barbecue uses a tomato-based sauce, heavily diluted with vinegar, and only the pork shoulder (dark meat) is used. The “capital” of western Carolina barbecue is usually considered to be the Piedmont Triad town of Lexington, home of the Lexington Barbecue Festival, which brings in over 100,000 visitors each October.
North Carolina is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola, first produced in 1890 in New Bern. A regional soft drink created and still based in the state is Cheerwine. Krispy Kreme, a popular chain of doughnut stores, was started in North Carolina; the company’s headquarters are in Winston-Salem. Despite its name, the hot sauce Texas Pete was created in North Carolina; its headquarters are also in Winston-Salem.
The Hardees fast-food chain was started in Rocky Mount. Another fast-food chain, Bojangles’, was started in Charlotte, and has its corporate headquarters there. A popular North Carolina restaurant chain is Golden Corral. Started in 1973, the chain was founded in Fayetteville, with headquarters located in Raleigh. Popular pickle brand Mount Olive Pickle Company was founded in Mount Olive in 1926. Cook Out, a popular fast food chain featuring burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes in a wide variety of flavors, was founded in Greensboro in 1989 and operates exclusively in North Carolina.