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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Dope Wagons

by Richard Rankin, 2006

Dope wagons were carts laden with snacks and soft drinks that circulated through North Carolina and other southern textile mills to provide workers with food and beverages. The dope wagon's name was derived from the nickname of one of its most commonly sold products-a "dope," or a bottle of Coca-Cola. With the advent of soda pop and packaged foods, the dope wagon was introduced into the cotton mill setting sometime during the first two decades of the twentieth century. It certainly was a fixture in the mills by the late 1920s. Because it allowed workers to remain on the job while they ate and drank, the dope wagon was suited ideally to the needs of owners determined to increase production in the era of the "speed-up" and the "stretch-out." The dope wagon gradually disappeared, replaced by the canteen and snack bar of modern textile factories.

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