In celebration of National Cherry Month, we put together a fun blog of facts about the world’s greatest fruit. Did you know that the reason Broadway Street in New York City shifts west at E. 10th street is because a cherry tree once sat there? Here are more facts to impress your friends with.
- Cherries are a stone fruit that belong to the rose family. They are related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines. Cherries have been enjoyed since the Stone Age.
- The word "cherry" comes from the Turkish town of Cerasus. And not surprisingly, Turkey, the country that named cherries, is the largest grower of cherries in the world.
- Cherries were a prized food in China dating back to 600 BC fit only for royalty.
- Pliny suggested that Roman General Lucullus introduced cherries to Europe around 74 B.C. Lucullus is said to have committed suicide when he realized he was running out of cherries.
- The English colonists brought cherries to North America in the 1600’s.
- George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree when he was a boy. It was a folk tale written by Parson Mason Weems, a biographer, who was trying to illustrate how honest Mr. Washington was. Because of this tale, Washington is so closely tied to cherries, that we celebrate National Cherry Month because his birthday is during this month.
- The first mention of cherries in Leelanau came from the diary of Rev. George N. Smith in 1849, who mentioned the planting of pie cherries.
- While cherries have long been a popular dessert fruit, cherries were used for their medicinal purposes in the 15th and 16th centuries. Today, that belief is even stronger as there are 60 national research studies confirming the healthy aspects of cherries. The Cherry Marketing Institute posts all the health benefits here: Broadway in New York shifts west at East 10th Street because a cherry tree once stood there.
- There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States, but fewer than 10 are produced commercially.
- Michigan has over 35,000 acres of tart cherry trees and grows almost 75% of the tart cherries produced in the United States. The Great Lakes State has almost 4 million cherry trees, producing about 150-200 pounds of tart cherries on each tree. In an average year, 165 million pounds will be produced in Michigan.
- There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree, and it takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie, so each tree potentially could produce enough cherries for 28 pies.
- At one time it was against the law to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas.
- Cherries have many national days as well. January 3rd is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. April 23rd is National Cherry Cheesecake Day. May 17th is National Cherry Cobbler Day. May 26th is National Cherry Dessert Day. August 28th is National Cherry Turnover Day. September 24th is National Cherries Jubilee Day.
- With a whole month and all those days to celebrate, it is no surprise that Americans consume an average of 1.5 pounds of cherries each year.
- You’ve heard the saying before, “Life is like a bowl full of cherries”. This ever popular phrase comes from a song written back in the 1930s that starts off with
Life is just a bowl of cherries;
Don’t make it serious;
Life’s too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can’t take your dough when you go, go, go!