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

Does 'Maraschino' Mean 'Poison'? Walmart's Maraschino Cherries are Really Toxic 2

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:

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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

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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.