Does 'Maraschino' Mean 'Poison'? Walmart's Maraschino Cherries are Really Toxic

I remember when I was a teenager, there was a rumor that went around saying that if you ate Maraschino cherries, you could get cancer. As awful as that sounds, the rumor may have not been far from the truth. Back then I didn't understand the connection between the ingredients in our food and our health--nor did I ever read a label. But I was smart enough to avoid eating these neon colored cherries that looked nothing like the real thing.

Many of us use Maraschinos on top of ice cream sundaes or in cocktails, but while the expression "with a cherry on top" is great if it pertains to a fresh, whole cherry, the expressions should be rewritten as "with a toxic chemical-laden cherry on top" if it means using either of the cherries pictured above.

Read more about the benefits of real cherries

I came across these jars of Maraschino cherries last week and I wanted to share what's in them with you in hopes that you'll avoid eating them at all costs. Here's why.

Check out the ingredients for both the green and red varieties: 

They contain:

  • High-fructose corn syrup (AKA glucose-fructose)
  • Sodium benzoate (allergic reactions, carcinogenic when mixed with citric acid)
  • Potassium sorbate (damages DNA)
  • Artificial flavors (allergic and behavioral reactions)
  • Artificial colors (hyperactivity, nasal congestion)
  • Sulfites (allergic reactions)

And here are the ingredients for the red Maraschino Cherries on's website:

Ingredients: Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate Added As Preservatives, FD&C Red #40, Sulfur Dioxide (Preservative).

I couldn't locate the green Maraschino Cherries on Walmart's site, but I would guess they have the same ingredients except for the artificial color, which would be FD&C Green No.3 instead of FD&C Red #40.


If you know anyone who still uses these, PLEASE share this article with them. If they are looking for a fancy decoration to top their ice cream or cocktails, recommend they opt for a fresh fruit or avoid it all together. It's not worth sacrificing their health for it.

Read more about why you should avoid artificial colors

By Andrea Donsky| December 24, 2013
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Andrea Donsky

Andrea Donsky

Founder & Chief Passionista at See my full bio here.

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