Why are cherries so sexual?

· By Team PLEASE

Now that it’s ‘Cherry Time’ we’re unpacking the seductive history of this juicy and delicious sex symbol.

We’re in the thick of cherry season here in South Africa, which just so happen to be a favourite fruit of both Please founders, so we thought we’d dive into the symbolism of cherries and how they got so intertwined with sex. 

We’re all very familiar with the multitude of fruits, and vegetables that have sexual connotations that are inherently familiar to us. We can mostly thank the emoji language for this. But cherries particularly, have been coupled with sex for many years. Long before emojis were even a seed of concept.

Where we find the other referential fruit like a peach or a banana having a more literal and visual similarity, there’s something about cherries that is far less literal and rather more suggestive. Which makes this symbol far more interesting.

If we take a look back, cherries originated in Europe and West Asia, where these sweet and sour stone fruits would grow on trees for people to pick and this is where cherries first earned their seductive reputation. 

In Greek and Roman mythology, cherries were linked to love and fertility. The fruit's scarlet skin, reminiscent of passion and desire, found its way into stories of goddesses and forbidden affairs, setting the stage for centuries of amorous associations.

Then during the Middle Ages, cherries continued their rise to notoriety. Artworks from this period often depicted cherries as symbols of sensuality, enticing viewers with their suggestive shape. The fruit's dual nature, innocent and alluring, made it a favourite subject for painters and poets exploring the complexities of desire, where we see Poets like Josuah Sylvester and Robert Herrick liken "Cherrielets" to "niplets" in multiple works. 

In the 19th century the figurative meaning became widespread, which was that a cherry is based on the idea of ripeness and so it compared to a woman's’ virginity, something that would with time ripen and then ready to ‘pop’.

Cherries also made their mark on the silver screen, becoming symbolic accessories in cinematic moments of passion. From Marilyn Monroe's seductive cherry-eating scene in "The Asphalt Jungle" to countless other instances of cherries serving as both prop and metaphor, the fruit has become a visual shorthand for all things flirtatious and steamy.

Musicians are also no stranger to bringing the sweet fruit into their work to steam things up. Lana Del Ray, Harry Styles and even J-Lo have songs called Cherry while probably the most famous song by The Runaways ‘Cherry Bomb’ is what floats to the top of our heads when it comes to cherries, painting them in a powerful and slightly sexually explosive manner.

And then there’s visual art, whether it’s photography or fine art, artists love cherries. From still life oil paintings of them on a bowl, to hyper realistic portraits and sexy polaroids, cherries have a visual library that’s infinitely growing. And we can’t get enough.

What about the cherry on top? No sultry exploration of cherries would be complete without a nod to some decadent desserts. Whether adorning a sundae or nestled in a pie, the ‘cherry on top’ serves as the ultimate culinary wink, inviting indulgence and, perhaps, a shared moment of sweetness. 

So, there you have it, the tantalising journey of cherries from orchard innocence to bedroom allure. These little red wonders have, over the centuries, transformed into the ultimate symbols of sweet temptation and playful passion. 

And we’ll bet that the next time you bite into a cherry, not only will you savour the taste but also the delicious history that comes with it.