The American Bottler Magazine announced in its June 1920 issue that the new Chero-Cola Bottling Plant building at 214-216 West Market Street in Johnson City, Tennessee had started being constructed.(5) The building would cost $8,000 and would be one story, 50 by 80 feet, with new machinery installed upon completion.(5) The Johnson City Chero-Cola Bottling Company is incorporated on June 5, 1920 with J. B. Johnson, Adwin A. Ernest, J. F. Hemprley, T. C. Johnson, and Lee B. Harr signing.(3) According to the July 1920 issue of the American Bottler, the first bottle of Chero-Cola bottled at the plant was auctioned for the benefit of the Children’s Home, with the winner being J. B. Worley for the price of $101.(5) Johnson, the manager, noted that the price of a bottle would actually be six cents.(5)

It would seem that this partnership was short lived as the Johnson City city directory lists William H. Treadwell, who helped start the Bristol Chero-Cola Bottling Company in Bristol, VA in May 1916, as Proprietor of the company.(1) By 1923 the company is listed at 212 West Market Street, but haven’t moved, and William H. Treadwell is now listed as President / Manager with T. E. Regland as Security-Treasurer.(1) The East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company is incorporated on February 7, 1925 with Scott E. Cunningham, Leslie R. Driver, T. E. Regland, W. G. Dempsey, and Lee F. Miller signing.(3) The 1925 city directory informs us that Cunningham is President, Leslie R. Driver is Vice President, and T. E. Regland is still Security-Treasurer. (1)

On February 7, 1929 the East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company changes its name to the Nehi Bottling Company and incorporates as such.(3) The board of directors for this new corporation consist of Scott E. Cunningham President/Treasurer, Leslie R. Driver as Vice President/Secretary, Clarence H. "Fox" Drinkard, who owns the Fox Drinkard Bottling Company in Bristol, VA, Samuel W. Williams, and A. B. Crouch.(3) The company is located in the same building at 212 West Market Street as East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company had been.(1) Clarence H. “Fox” Drinkard was manager of a distribution warehouse for the company located at 106 State Street, Bristol, Tennessee.(4) The Nehi Bottling Company appears to be located at 226 West Market Street in 1930 (1); however, the Sanborn maps show that this is just a shift in the street numbers, and they are still located in the same building.

The corporation changes its name to the Cunningham Beverage Company on April 13, 1931 apparently due to their losing the Nehi franchise for some reason.(3) The Nehi franchise is taken over by The Nehi Bottling Corporation which was incorporated on May 1, 1931 with William C. Adams as President/General Manager.(3) Aside from their own Cunningham Beverages line the company picks up Brandimist as a replacement leader for the now relinquished Nehi, which they appear to be bottling until sometime before 1933 when they try to sell the bottles, and syrup, for the brand to the Nu-Icy Bottling Company of Rogersville, Tennessee. They appear to have replaced it with 7-UP which they bottled in the squat amber bottles with a paper label, and no town information embossed on them. September 1936 Scott E. Cunningham sold his shares of the company stock to Wiley McCoy due to the former having health issues, thus creating the 7-UP Bottling Company of the Appalachians.

This is the location of the East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company at 212 West Market Street.

August 27, 1922 ad announcing the arrival of the Chero-Cola Dolls, which were apparently a premium given away on the underside of Chero-Cola bottle caps.

6 1/2oz Chero-Cola bottle

6oz Nehi Ginger Ale cap from the Chero-Cola Bottling Co. Nehi actually came into existence around 1924 after Chero lost the case with Coca-Cola which forced them to drop the Cola part of their name.

From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
6 1/2oz Chero-Cola bottle (Coke bottle green variation)

June 8, 1923 ad announcing the introduction of the new "twist" style Chero-Cola bottle.

6 oz Twist style Chero-Cola bottle

May 21, 1928 ad announcing the introduction of the new CherO bottle. Chero-Cola had to change their name due to losing a lawsuit with Coca-Cola, the brand never recovered it's former popularity even though it lasted in one form or another until the 1950's.

9oz Nehi Imitation Peach and Strawberry bottle caps from the Chero-Cola Bottling Company

6 1/2oz Cunningham Beverage bottle from the 1930's

6 1/2 oz Imitation Strawberry and Lemon bottle caps from the Cunningham Beverage Company

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(1) Commercial Johnson City, Tenn. City Directory

(2) Cummins V. McCoy et al. 125sw.2d 509

(3) Washington County Tennessee Court Records

(4) Hill's Bristol VA-Tenn City Directory

(5) The American Bottler Magazine