Cherries gone wild

19 09 2010

When I was in kindergarten, I learned that cherries are red. The sky is blue, grass is green, lemons are yellow and cherries are red.

Seeing these on the shelf at AJ’s defied everything I had ever understood about color. My kindergarten self would have had a complex.

A blue cherry makes no sense. Everyone knows cherries can’t be blue. But lo and behold, here these were, in all their neon glory. And actually, this jar was only part of a whole rainbow of cherries on the shelf. Surrounding it were yellow cherries, green cherries, orange cherries, brown cherries… My head started hurting a little.

Now, odd-colored fruit is one thing. But these weren’t just colored differently — they were flavored differently. Lemon flavored cherries, lime flavored cherries, wild berry flavored cherries, chocolate flavored cherries… Now, hold up. Is it just me, or aren’t cherries supposed to taste like cherries? Doesn’t re-flavoring them defeat the purpose? Were these cherries freaks of nature?

The only normal jar in the bunch was the one filled with maraschino cherries. Those were red, like cherries should be, and I knew they were normal because I eat them on top of my ice cream. The rest of the jars had me curious, especially the blue one: wild berry flavored cherries. Isn’t a cherry a berry? Don’t they grow in the wild? What made these so special (aside from their rather…glowing appearance)? I had to know, so I snatched the jar off the shelf and bought it.

When I opened the jar and looked inside, the sight of blue cherries (such an oxymoron, still) floating around in bright blue juice didn’t really seem all that appetizing to me. Hesitatingly, I reached in and fished out a piece of the supposed fruit, the vibrant juice dripping from my fingers.

My first impression upon eating the cherry was that it was sweet. Really sweet. Not sweet like a strawberry or an apple or a (normal) cherry; more along the lines of let’s-see-if-a-spoonful-of-sugar-really-works-like-Mary-Poppins-says-it-does kind of sweet.  (Don’t tell me you never tried that as a kid.)  I think the strangest thing was that it didn’t taste like a cherry. Not one bit.

It had the texture of a maraschino cherry. It looked like one, it crunched like one…but it tasted like the love child of berry blue Kool-Aid and cotton candy.

(Yes, I know they could never have a baby cherry. Just roll with it.)

While it was certainly an interesting (and very sweet) flavor, I’m not sure what purpose it serves in cherry form. I think cherries taste fine just the way they are, without needing to be flavored like berries or limes or lemons…or whatever.  (The chocolate flavored ones made some sense, though personally I think I’d prefer regular chocolate-covered cherries.) Maybe you could put a wild berry cherry on top of your ice cream sundae, if you felt like those maraschinos were getting boring. But honestly, it’s sweet enough as it is that I feel like adding it to ice cream might put someone in a sugar coma.

The bottom line is, wild berry flavored cherries aren’t terrible, but I don’t see any practical purpose for them.  (Other than maybe a brighter substitute for blueberries on my mom’s yearly Fourth of July cake…or maybe I can take them along to the next black-light party I go to and wear them in my hair.)  If you can think of a better use for these, send your ideas my way. I’d love to hear them…especially seeing as I still have a nearly full jar of these sitting in my refrigerator.


Ingredients: Cherries, sugar/high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, added as preservatives, calcium chloride, natural and artificial flavor, PD&C Blue #1, and sulfur dioxide (as a preservative).
$5.99 at AJ’s Fine Foods
Pros: Vibrant blue color if you’re trying to decorate something with oddly colored fruit. Perfect if you’re looking for blue raspberry cotton candy in cherry form.
Cons: Overpoweringly sweet; seemingly pointless; kind of pricey.

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