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National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day on January 3 is for celebrating that combo that just naturally seems to go together, cherries and chocolate. Just as the holiday festivities are behind us and a new year begins, we look forward to the luscious confection that puts a smile on everyone’s face and brightens our outlook for whatever waits for us in the new year ahead.
History of National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
Chocolate covered cherries, also known as cherry cordials, have been enjoyed by Americans and indeed the world for generations. Early settlers from Europe were so fond of cherries they made sure that some were stashed among the cargo when they sailed the Atlantic Ocean to reach America in the 1600s.
Although there are a variety of cherries now considered to be native to North America, the common belief is that cherries originated in Turkey. Cherries are known to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world and it seems as though our love of cherries is deeply ingrained in human culture.
The English began soaking sweet cherries in kirsch, a cherry brandy, and covering them with chocolate in the 1700s. These cordials, as they were known, were savored for their intoxicating effects, and reserved for holidays. The French created a similar confection called Griottes around the same time using a sour cherry called a griotte, which they also soaked in kirsch and smothered in chocolate. Both English cordials and French Griottes made their way to America in the 1700s and immediately became in demand to no one’s surprise.
Americans began making cordials using a strong, sugary syrup liqueur by crushing whole cherries, cooking them in sugar and brandy, then covering with chocolate. These became known as cherry cordials, but other fruits were also made into cordials using the same brandy and sugar method. Cherry cordials were the most popular and usually reserved for holidays and special festivities. Eventually, the alcohol was removed from the recipe during prohibition, and cherry cordials were instead made with cherry flavored sugar syrup. By 1929 the first chocolate covered–cherries made with sugar syrup and no alcohol began to be mass–produced in America to meet the increased demand.
Today we celebrate–chocolate covered cherries of all persuasions – dark, milk, even white chocolate varieties. We love to savor a cherry cordial after dinner made with sweet liqueurs and the nip of kirsch brandy but are always eager to indulge in a sweet sugar syrup centered chocolate–covered cherry as a late afternoon delight. Whichever you prefer, make sure you treat yourself for National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day.
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day timeline
Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. purchases Cella’s Confections, Inc. and continues to sell the popular confection under the Cella brand name.
Rival confectioner Queen Anne’s Cordial Cherry is introduced and begins commercially manufacturing chocolate covered cherries.
Cella is the first confectioner to commercially manufacture chocolate covered cherries on a large scale.
Italian immigrant confectioner Angelo Cella begins making cherry cordials in America.
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day FAQs
What are chocolate-covered cherries called?
Chocolate covered cherries are also called cherry cordials. Chocolate covered cherries refer to those confections that are made with cherry flavored sugar syrup centers, while the name cherry cordial is typically used for those that may contain liqueur, and thus alcohol.
What is the difference between liquor and liqueur?
Liquor is a distilled alcoholic spirit and is not sweet. The liqueur used in producing cherry cordials is sweet and the product of mixing liquor with crushed cherries. Liqueurs are used most often as flavoring agents in cocktails and baking and of course in creating cherry cordials. Liquors can be flavored but are never sweet.
Who makes chocolate-covered cherries?
The three most popular confectionery brands of chocolate-covered cherries today are Cella’s, Queen Anne’s, and Brach’s.
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day Activities
Host a cherry cordial pairing party
Invite your pals over to sample a “flight” of cherry cordials, paired with different wines or spirits. Include a variety of tempting cordials – dark, milk, and white chocolate –some with liqueur, some without. To get everyone in a jovial chocolate-covered mood we suggest watching the classic television sitcom “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel get jobs wrapping chocolates in a candy factory.
Treat others to a chocolate-covered cherry afternoon delight
Pick up a box or two of freshly made cordials from a local confectioner for the office or family. Few people can resist the temptation of a luscious cherry smothered in chocolate, nor will they forget who shared the indulgence.
Plant a cherry tree
Urban legend has it that America’s first president, George Washington, chopped down a family cherry tree as a child, much to his father’s dismay. When confronted, little George admitted to the terrible deed with “I cannot tell a lie.” We have no idea whether this story is fact or fiction or what would provoke George to do such a thing. But now that we know how cherished cherries were in colonial America, we finally understand why this odd story made its way into elementary history books. We think the story is a good enough reason to plant a cherry tree on National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, in memory of the tree little George chopped down.
Five Random Facts About Cherries
Cherries derive their name from the Turkish town of Cerasus.
Washington leads the way
Washington State grows more sweet cherries than any other region in America.
The wider family
Cherries are related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines.
Darker cherries have higher antioxidant and vitamin levels than lighter ones.
Sour cherries have higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins than sweet cherries.
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day dates