Cherries Need New PR.

I spent 31 years of my life automatically assuming that I despised cherries.

There was the cherry cough syrup I was given against my will as a young child, shaping my first impressions of cherries as The Fruit That Tastes Like Gastric Acid.

Then there was cherry-flavored candy – it didn’t matter whether it was Skittles, Starburst, Now and Laters, Pop Rocks, Bonkers or DOTS, cherry was always last in my lineup to eat.

(Right after grape, which also needs new PR when it comes to its candy-flavoring counterpart.)

(Oh – and watermelon. WORST CANDY FLAVORING IN THE WORLD.)

But. Back to cherries. Because cherries, unlike grapes and watermelon, have a catastrophic issue.

After my introduction to cough syrup and candy flavorings, I met my Grandfather’s favorite treat, Chocolate Covered Cherries. Not the chocolate covered dried fruit of today, but the chocolate-covered-moist-maraschino-cherries.

I hated all candies that burst in one’s mouth (remember Gushers?), so Chocolate Covered Cherries were the Nicolas Cage of chocolates and the Sarah McLachlan singing over images of abused dogs of cherries. That nasty bloody liquid squirting into my mouth when I mistook my Granddad’s treats for a truffle….it was child cruelty. Sarah McLachlan should have been singing for ME.

Let’s not skip over the sins of maraschino cherries themselves. According to Wikipedia, they are…

first preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to bleach the fruit, then soaked in a suspension of food coloring (common red food dye, FD&C Red 40), sugar syrup, and other components.

Cherry’s PR: “Let’s take a red fruit, bleach it with frighteningly named chemicals, then re-color it red! While we’re at it, we’ll add ‘other components,’ since we haven’t disfigured them enough already.”

The only redeeming value that I could find in cherries as a child (and I’ll lose a friend or two over this admission) was that my favorite candy was Brach’s Red Licorice, which is loosely supposed to be cherry-flavored. But then when Brach’s broke my heart and discontinued my best friend in candy form, my breakup with cherries was solidified.

(Although I will still eat a Twizzler now and then. But it’s not the same.)

As I entered my adolescence, I learned the more euphemistic meanings of cherries, tacky cherry-covered clothing came in style, and then a few years later, Katy Perry made cherries forever synonymous with the taste of Chapstick.

I had literally never tasted a single real, live, unaltered cherry in my entire life until the summer of 2013.

My grocery store had them out in a sample tray.

(Which is smart on their part since my generation is never going to be like, “yeah, let’s try cherries for our fruit of the week.”)

On a whim, I reached in, popped one in my mouth, and scrunched up my face, just waiting for The Nasty to hit my taste buds.

But no!

It was fantastic.

Full of flavor but without juicy explosions, sweeter than I had imagined but without a cough-syrup aftertaste, and all around delightful!

And also, who knew that half of them were shaped like adorable little hearts?

Cherries Need New PR

I was shocked, I tell you. And for the last year, I’ve been addicted.

This fruit had been hiding in plain sight, incorrectly linked with the seediest of flavorings, keeping fruit-lovers everywhere away from their bounty, for at least three generations.

Because Cherries need new PR.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    Laura W. says:

    I share your cherry-flavored aversion! And those nasty little neon red cherries on top of milkshakes…BLECH!! I just don’t even know if I could get over the HUGE mental hurdle of hating all things cherry to give it a try. Of course my first task would be to locate an actual, REAL cherry…

    • 1.1

      I bought two types of cherries to compare them this week and both were delicious. They’re $2.99/lb and $4.99/lb at Publix right now… I think you need to just sneak by and “try” one right out of the bag. :-)

  2. 2
    Melissa says:

    Oooooooo I love cherries. I bet there’s a way to make your own maraschino cherries. I’ll have to research that.

  3. 3

    Cherry “flavour” really doesn’t taste much like cherries at all, does it?

    You should try other kinds too, especially sour cherries which are only ripe about now. They are wonderful in pies and sauces. Or jam. Mmm jam.

    My brother has a tree but is allergic to them so we all get to eat them in great quantities. Except for my sister who is ALSO allergic (needs an epipen). But cherry cheese cake or Black Forest cake are among my favourite desserts in the world. If you come visit me, I will make you one ;)

  4. 4
    Daff says:

    I was quite surprised to learn after all the cherry hate, that you never actually tried a real cherry until last summer. I despite maraschino cherries but LOVE fresh cherries. I once went to visit a friend in Kelowna, B.C. who was lucky enough to have cherry trees all over her yard. We spent the better part of a week sitting in the trees, gorging on cherries. Ahhh… memories.

    “Oh – and watermelon. WORST CANDY FLAVORING IN THE WORLD”. Truer words have never been spoken!! I think I’d rather have fermented banana flavoured candy lol

    • 4.1

      I think it’s a southern thing – we grow a lot of fruits down here, but not cherries. So we’re just not as familiar with them. You really have to go out of your way to try a cherry down here. But TOTALLY worth it.

  5. 5
    Stephanie says:

    Love, love, LOVE cherries and anything cherry-flavored. If I’m eating candy and there is a cherry flavor available, it is always my favorite. (I could do some serious, irreparable damage to my dental work with red Sour Patch Kids.) And, even though I learned recently that maraschino cherries are gross, I still love them, too.

    I do have to agree on the watermelon flavor, though. Natural watermelon=delectable; watermelon-flavored=deal breaker.

  6. 6
    Debra says:

    Have you tried Ranier cherries?? Only available about 6 weeks out of the year?? TO.DIE.FOR.

    • 6.1

      I got them this week, along with a bag of “regular” sweet cherries, and ate them back to back. The flavor wasn’t double-the-price better than the others, but they did have a very delightful snap when I bit through the skin…

  7. 7
    Breenah says:

    I can’t do anything grape or orange “flavored” but I love grapes and oranges. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to not have the same fruit issue with them, but I’m glad. Cherries are delicious, but they’re so not worth the seed removal.

  8. 8
    Jill says:

    I may consider trying a fresh cherry after reading this. Possibly.

  9. 9
    Julie says:

    We get fresh cherries here in the summer…one of the few fruits that grow well in parts of MT. So good!! I grew up never liking maraschino cherries because I knew what they weren’t. And I agree, if you get a chance to try rainier cherries, they are awesome!

  10. 10
    Robin says:

    Yeah. Cherries are the bomb. I picked 27 pounds off my grandfather-in-law’s trees a couple weeks ago. And I preserved EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Except the ones we ate fresh, which were a lot. I dried cherries, canned cherries, made cherry pie filling out of the sour ones, and flash froze them. Now I am set on free cherries for the year.

    And it looks like the cherries you tried are Bings. Bings are very very good (and definitely the most common in supermarkets) but there are other cherries out there. And they deserve love too. If you ever visit a northern state during early summer, try to find a cherry orchard and eat them truly fresh. It may change your life.

  11. 11

    I love cherries! Cherry flavouring is to cherries like Velveeta is to cheese. Have you ever read the description on a Lunchable? It says, “Processed Cheese Food.” It’s bad when you have to explain that something should be a food. Maraschinos should should be “Processed Cherry Food.”

    My husband thinks he hates cherries, but I think he’s just like you, that he hates cherry flavouring. He once accidentally had a dark chocolate cherry bread and loved it. But I can’t get him to try a regular real cherry.

  12. 12
    Kathy Gunthorpe Ashdown says:

    Here’s some PR for you. Cherries are known to reduce/eliminate uric acid from your body. You’re probably too young to have experienced gout but trust me, it is extremely painful and is caused by a build up of uric acid in the kidneys and joints. Cherries are a great fix AND preventative. They also reduce the levels of c-reactive protein in the body, which causes painful inflammation of EVERYTHING from organs, to blood vessels. Just two cups a day (which isn’t very much) takes care of both of these problems.

  13. 13
    Melanie Miller says:

    I AGREE!! Any medicine from my youth was cherry flavored and AWFUL tasting. yuck. Love the real deal, bings, raniers, even sour (if in a pie or jam). No to the maraschino, just no.

    Another awful flavor from my youth, fake lime… as in lime Jell-O. Horrible stuff, especially when the church ladies made it for potlucks with either canned fruit cocktail or cottage cheese in it. Gagging just thinking about it now. I tried real lime in the last few years and it is delightful, citrus-y and bright. Lovely with Mexican food, of course.

    Oh, and also, my mom doesn’t like blueberries so we never had them growing up. But, HELLO! Blueberries are Awesome!! I have a lot of blueberries to eat to make up for all the years I didn’t get any. :)

  14. 14
    Qoumidan says:

    You have terrible taste in candy. Watermelon is the best flavor, only barely in front of green apple, grape is marvelous but behind cherry in tastiness while in contrast red licorice is like eating an unscented candle. Valid licorice only comes in black. I can’t fathom how or why you managed to avoid real cherries all this time.

    On a side note, there are at least 2 different artificial grape flavorings that I have found. One is common and is found is jello, dum dums, jolly ranchers, nerds and most other candies. The other is hard for me to find and tastes like concord grapes. It is amazing! I found it recently in Morinaga Hi-Chews, which are also amazing.

    And another thing, why in heaven’s name would you save the least favorite for last? What strange person does that? You are suppose to either eschew some flavors completely (my hubby takes out the black licorice jelly bellies and gives them to me or the kids) or you eat the least favored first so you can properly savor the best at the end!

  15. 15
    Carol Mendoza says:

    Rainer cherries! Nuff said!

  16. 16
    Laura says:

    I was kind of the same way till we moved into a house that had a cherry tree. I always associated cherries with the yucky ones they put on ice cream sundaes. But real cherries are delious.

  17. 17
    Heather Brown says:

    I might possibly be tempted to try a real cherry because of the new PR you have provided for it. :)

  18. 18
    Marlene says:

    My husband and I have a favorite saying every time our kids turn up their nose at some food…”you”ll like it when your 30″

  19. 19
    Taren says:

    I love candies that burst in your mouth! I currently have gushers in my kitchen right now. And that gum.. “Freshen-Up” I believe? You can still find it at Cracker Barrel and it is the best..

    I’m always excited when Cherry Season is here and fresh cherries aren’t $99 a pound.

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