No, I am not dreaming of Cherry Garcia ice cream. No, I’m not dreaming of a deadhead concert even though I did attend an elite preppy boarding school. Many are currently dreaming of a white Christmas. I, on the other hand, am dreaming of Cherryheads. Not lemon heads, but cherryhead candy.  I grew up savoring, delighting in lemon heads and grape heads. That sugar obsession has stayed with me well into adulthood.  When I travel to Atlanta on business, I walk to the nearest CVS and buy their big bag of lemon heads. The only way I can get through three days of a government meeting is by doping up on sugar. I usually bring in a big box of Frosted Flakes as well, that I sit atop the table for all sugar fiends to partake of. People laugh at me at first. However, by the afternoon of the first day of a three-day meeting people are begging for a Frosted Flakes hit.  My lemon heads, however, I keep a lot closer to my vest. Anyway, my sugar fondness is legendary.

Tonight, as I gear up to watch the latest episode of Arrow, I’m dreaming of Cherryheads. They are tart but special. They can melt away in your mouth, but I most readily prefer to bite them and chew them up. They are not as readily distributed or therefore consumed as are lemon heads. Cherries in their deep ruby redness are as American as apple pie with a tangy zest.  Traverse City in Michigan claims to be the “Cherry Capital of the World“, hosting a National Cherry Festival and making the world’s largest cherry pie.  In Australia and New Zealand cherries are widely associated with Christmas.  Cherries are the perfect accompaniment for this time of year.

Speaking of which, Chinese folklore advises that as the New Year approaches one should place cherry branches over the doors to guard against the entry of evil spirits.  You can also place a carved cheery wood statue out front.  Seems like good innocuous advice to heed.  Other lore notes that cuckoo birds tend to have a folkloric penchant for cherries.   In order for them to stop singing they are to supposedly eat three instances of cherries.  Spookily, there is an old child’s rhyme that states:  

Cuckoo, cherry tree,
Good bird tell me,
How many years before I die”

In case you are wondering, the answer is the number of cuckoo songnotes that come next. Remind me to keep my child away from cuckoo birds. They are a bit nutty.

Cherry branches

Overall, I think I prefer the medicinal and sugary purpose of cherries.  They lift my spirits and satiate my hunger for a bittersweet ending to a meal. Cherries were once considered the food of the kings and Cherryheads are just as good for me.  I will leave a cherry branch on the front door, though as a properly superstitious Puerto Rican, just in case.