Legendary southern soft drink Cheerwine is doubling its market size by partnering with Pepsi Beverages Company (PBC) to expand distribution in Florida, Atlanta and Memphis.

The independent 94-year-old North Carolina company, still held and managed by the family of the founder, continues to build on its vision to become available nationwide in time for its 100th anniversary in 2017.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have a best-in-class distribution partner in the Pepsi Beverages Company,” says Cliff Ritchie, CEO and great-grandson of founder L.D. Peeler.

“When you boil it down there just isn’t anything like Cheerwine in the soft drink world, so we feel it’s an ideal time to expand, and we’re fortunate to be doing it with a world class partner. We’re in the business of putting smiles on peoples’ lips and we’re very happy to be able to extend our distribution to do just that.”

The distribution partnership will initially launch with Cheerwine glass bottles with real cane sugar (The Original 1917 formula) and 12-pack Cheerwine cans in Florida, Atlanta and Memphis, on shelves wherever Pepsi is sold.

This expansion, which follows partnering with PBC earlier this year in Knoxville, Nashville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, allows Cheerwine fans to have access for the first time to the once-regional soft drink.

The population of Florida, Atlanta, and Memphis is about 26 million people. This represents nearly a two-fold increase in population over Cheerwine’s current area of distribution—illustrating the company’s commitment to expand outward geographically from its core, keeping the focus of the expansion on bringing Cheerwine to its most ardent enthusiasts. Cheerwine also has existing Pepsi partnerships with Pepsi of Central Virginia, Pepsi Bottling Ventures based in Raleigh and Pepsi of Roxboro, N.C.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the company will kick-off several initiatives to further its expansion goals and continue spreading the cheer. These initiatives include a package redesign, to ensure Cheerwine continues to look as good as it tastes; the new packaging will feature bolder visuals, including the new logo that incorporates the word “Legend.” In addition, the 12-pack cartons will dedicate one panel to Cheerwine billboard ads.

To kick off its arrival in new markets, Cheerwine will reach fans via Facebook and host extensive sampling events in Florida, Atlanta, and Memphis, along with appearances by Miss Cheerwine—who traveled the South this summer on the Miss Cheerwine Summer Legend Tour—distributing samples and meeting fans in the new markets.

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