Why I Hate Maraschino Cherries

My first real job, the kind with a paycheck and withholding taxes, was at Dairy Queen. I was twelve years old, in seventh grade, my first year of junior high school. It was 1973, and I made 75 cents an hour, below minimum wage. I used all of my money to buy clothes made from shiny polyester. My favorite colors were mauve and green.

My mother drove me to work and picked me up, a chore made onerous by the sour-milk odor of my uniform at shift’s end. Even in the bitter cold of winter, with sleety rain pelting the car, we rode home with the windows cracked.

What made up for the low pay and hard work, however, was sneaking ice cream and other treats, especially the maraschino cherries, which were considered an expensive delicacy at my house. The cherries were the easiest food to sneak: small, quickly eaten, and in one of a series of recessed bins between two ice cream machines.

I worked at Dairy Queen almost a year, and while I can’t remember the specific moment when I realized I hated maraschino cherries, I know I hated them by the time I quit. I still hate them — their chemical flavor and their squeaky texture.

I do still like soft-serve ice cream, though, in spite of what I know about recycling the overflow. But you don’t want to hear about that.

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