food

This Christmas, there's one thing we need to talk about: the glazed cherry.

For a start: why does it look so beautiful? The glazed cherry simply drips with lusciousness. It’s plump and red and glossy and looks mouthwatering.

But when you search the Oxford dictionary for the definition of trickster there are no words, just a little picture of a solitary glazed cherry giving a very tiny finger.

THE GLAZED CHERRY IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS.

It’s a villain in a pretty red dress.

It’s a short man sitting on a stool about to go to the bar to get a drink for a very tall woman.

It’s a chemical in fruit’s clothing.

It is one of the worst tasting foods in the whole world (and we are including that salmon pattie my brother tried to reheat in the summer of 1998).

The glazed cherry: a chemical in fruit's clothing. (iStock)

Now it's Christmas time, the glazed cherry is back. Sure, it's great mate the maraschino cherry might have popped up now and again, bobbing around a Manhattan cocktail or lying across an old fashioned banana sundae like a 70s porn star, but the glazed cherry is better at hiding. Perhaps because it is stalk free. Perhaps because the latest round of IQ testing had it 40 points up on the maraschino.

Whatever the reason, avoiding the glazed cherry is not easy this time of year.

When Aunty Cheryl gives you her special Christmas fruitcake, you can't pop the little glazed buggers out from beside the drunk sultanas with your finger and leave them on your plate. When your Dad cooks his special Christmas plum pudding that was handed down to him through the generations you can't gag on the glazed cherries.

You have to be an adult. YOU HAVE TO EAT THEM.

The perfect Christmas present. Post continues below. 

And what is 'them'?

Well, here is a potted history of the little cherry that looks so full of promise.

The glazed cherry is a relative of the maraschino cherry. The maraschino cherry (it has a stalk) first started its tricky little life as a marasca cherry on the coast of Dalmatia (now Croatia) around the 1850s (I think we are still eating some from that same batch).

Then the French grabbed onto it, and because they had French accents the world thought, "Oh, isn't this little red blob the height of sophistication. Pass me a cerise glacee. Make it four."

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But the world seemed to forget one important thing as they embraced this new addition to the pantry: the fruit in the fruit had been lost and really what we were all eating was pool chemicals sprinkled with arsenic, if we knew what arsenic tasted like.

Avoiding the glazed cherry is not easy this time of year. Image via iStock.

Maraschino cherries are preserved in brine that contains sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride. They are then soaked in red food dye, sugar syrup and other things from a chemical warehouse. Glazed cherries (sometimes called candied cherries) are maraschino cherries "processed further by cooking them in thick flavoured syrup" and taking the stalks off.

Both types of cherries can last unopened in the cupboard for about two to three years.

That is not a food. That is something that can survive a nuclear disaster.

We will be dead and the glazed cherry will still be looking good post-apocalypse.

No wonder it's so smug looking.

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