Maraschino Cherries

LORELAI: Hey, will you go get the ice cream and make sure they give us a ton of maraschino cherries?

A maraschino cherry is one that has been sweetened and preserved, They are preserved in a brine solution containing sulphur dioxide and calcium chloride to bleach them, then soaked in a mixture of red food colouring and sugar syrup.

The name comes from the Marasca cherry from Croatia, a type of Morello cherry; cherries preserved in marasca liqueur were known as “maraschino cherries”. They became popular in Europe in the 19th century, but because the supply of cherries was limited, they were a delicacy reserved for royalty and the very wealthy.

Maraschino cherries were introduced to the US in the late 19th century, where they were served in fine bars and restaurants. Because they were scarce and expensive, by the turn of the century other cherries such as the Royal Anne were substituted, and flavours like almond extract added. Alcohol was already becoming rare as a preserving agent, and when Prohibition arrived, became illegal.

Maraschino cherries are used in certain cocktails, and are used to decorate foods such as cakes, pastries, fruit salad, and baked ham. In the US, they are an essential addition to ice cream sundaes, leading to the expression, “the cherry on top” to mean the finishing touch which makes a good thing perfect.

Another mention of Lorelai’s love of cherries, this is at least the third one. Note that Rory is going to get rocky road ice cream sundaes to take home and eat with the movie, and they are walking. Even on a chilly night, how are the sundaes not going to melt on the way home? Do they live only thirty seconds walk from the centre of town?

A possible slight contradiction – in Season 1, Lorelai says Rory doesn’t like rocky road cookies, but now she’s happily ordering rocky road sundaes. I suppose it’s plausible she doesn’t like rocky road in cookies, but enjoys it in ice cream, although it sounds unlikely to me. She might have changed her mind, also.

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