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National Cherry Day is celebrated on July 16, making it the perfect summertime celebration. Cherries range from sweet to tart, they come in shades ranging from red to yellow, and you can create a wide variety of dishes, desserts, and drinks with them. We can’t blame George Washington for allegedly chopping down that cherry tree. Today, the U.S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year.
History of National Cherry Day
Cherries have been a staple for centuries. From the Roman Empire to the Chinese dynasties, the little red fruits have been on the plate of millions and came to America by ship with early settlers in the 1600s.
Modern-day cherry production in the United States began in 1852 when Peter Dougherty began planting cherry trees on the Old Mission Peninsula in the state of Michigan. The Midwest area proved to have an ideal climate for growing cherries and mass harvesting soon took place, with the first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan being planted in 1893. Soon, production surpassed other major crops and the first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built with the ruby-red fruit soon being shipped to neighboring cities in the Midwest. Outreach to the entire country was created shortly after.
The maraschino cherry, created from sweet cherries, is what popularized cherries in the U.S. This popular dessert cherry was invented by merchants on the Balkan Peninsula and in northern Italy by adding liqueur to a local cherry called the Marasca. The resulting cherry product was shipped into the United States in the 1890s.
In 1896, U.S. cherry processors began trialing an indigenous sweet cherry for maraschino cherries, in which less liqueur was used in the processing, and almond oil was added. In the end, the liqueur was eliminated completely. By 1920, the American variation of the maraschino cherry was so popular that it had substituted the nonnative variety in the United States.
National Cherry Day timeline
Greek author, Theophrastus, discusses cherries in the book “History of Plants.”
King Charles V of France planted over one thousand cherry trees in his gardens at St. Paul and Tournelle.
Cherries are brought to America with the first settlers.
Americans produce their first Maraschino cherries using liqueur.
National Cherry Day FAQs
Which variety is best?
The Bing cherry is large with an intensely sweet, vibrant flavor. The fruit, when ripe, is firm, juicy, and a deep mahogany red. Because of its fine qualities, the Bing cherry has become the standard by which all other cherries are measured.
Why was National Cherry Day created?
National Cherry Day, celebrated on July 16, was established as a day to raise awareness of Britain’s cherries. During the 20th century, Britain lost 90% of its cherry orchards. Following the wars, cherry orchards were planted over with more vital crops to feed the people.
Which is most nutritious?
Tart cherries are rich in antioxidant compounds including anthocyanin and quercetin, which may play a role in reducing total body inflammation and fighting free radicals.
National Cherry Day Activities
Visit a U-Pick farm
Oregon, California, and Michigan are a few of the states that have cherry U-Pick farms. Enjoy a day outside, picking fresh cherries.
Make black cherry iced tea
Celebrate this national holiday by adding a twist to a southern classic. Iced tea is the perfect summer drink, and cherries are a great addition.
Attend a cherry-pit spitting contest
Think you have skills? Known as the Cherry Pit Spitting Capital of the World, Eau Claire, Michigan, hosts the International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship each year. The world record for cherry stone spitting is a whole 93 feet 6.5 inches. Try beating that!
5 Facts About Cherries That Will Blow Your Mind
The average cherry tree has 7,000 cherries
Cherry trees are so productive, they can yield up to 28 pies.
There are two main types
Cherries are either sweet or tart.
Michigan is the cherry capital
Around 94% of cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown in Michigan.
Pits contain toxins
Don’t chew on cherry pits because they can release toxins.
There are 1000 varieties
There are more than 1000 different cherry varieties, sweet and tart combined, but only 20% of them are used for commercial purposes.
Why We Love National Cherry Day
Cherries are versatile
Cherries can be turned into many different recipes. You can make jam, barbeque sauce, pastries, pies, cola, ice cream, and much more. Grill them, dry them, or juice them. No matter what, they are always delicious.
No one really loves taking their vitamins, right? Well, sneaky cherries are filled with vitamins A, B, C, and E. Together, these vitamins help blood circulation, hair growth, stress management, and reduce cancer risk to mention a few.
They are historic
Cherries have been around for centuries. The earliest information about cherries was written by Greek author Theophrastus in the book “History of Plants” in 300 B.C.
National Cherry Day dates