They’re commonly found in a Brandy Old-Fashioned, and sitting atop sundaes. But what exactly is a maraschino cherry?

The original maraschino cherries—made from marasca cherries preserved in maraschino liqueur—were created in the northern Adriatic region. The maraschino cherry was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and has since undergone several changes; most significantly, the American kind is preserved in brine—there is no alcohol involved—and later sweetened. Today, Oregon is the top producer of maraschinos made from underripe royal anne cherries. The modern, bright red orbs may be laden with sugar and dyes, but we find them hard to resist.