Back when the previous decade was getting ready to draw to a close, Joe and I traveled a little over 2,700 miles to visit my grandparents in Yakima, Washington. After a day of rest, we were ready to embark on an Adventure. With just a full tank of gas and an old-school road map (it was 2009, and neither of us had smartphones), we literally climbed into my grandparents’ classic ’88 GMC van and took off. No plan, no schedule.
Not a good idea.
You see, Joe and I are different in many ways. He is thin, I am curvy. He is patient, I am … not. He is good with flora, I am good with fauna. But in one very important way, we are incredibly similar:
We both get really cranky when we don’t eat.
Which is why, four hours and fifty miles east on I-82 later, we were ready to either kill each other or die trying.
We were hot, dehydrated, and famished. My back hurt. Joe had the full heat of the blazing desert sun on his side of the vehicle. We had no plan, no direction, and no food. In short, we were one missed exit away from going all-out Hunger Games on each other.
And then I saw the sign (quite literally): that familiar red outline, with the friendly black-and-white bird hanging out in the center, its little beak-cum-beacon pointing us in the right direction:
I saw the sign for Chukar Cherries.
We were one exit away from Salvation.
“Chukar Cherries! Chukar Cherries!” I exclaimed, because at that point, my brain was so foggy from jet lag and lack of glucose that all I could do was repeat the words I was reading over and over again. “Chukar Cherries, Joe! Chukar Cherries!”
Chukar Cherries is a Washington state institution. The company was started in the 1980’s when founder Pam Montgomery discovered that the forgotten and shriveled cherries left on trees turned out to be pretty darn tasty. In 1988, she was inspired by a trip to Harrod’s in London and started experimenting with dipping the dried fruit in chocolate.
Since then, Chukar Cherries has expanded to include three stores, including the flagship in Prosser, where we found ourselves on that fateful day. As soon as I walked into that familiar setting, I felt happier. Displays of cellophane-ensconced cherry delights were everywhere. Jars of preserves, ice cream toppings, and even savory cherry sauces were perfectly arranged on the shelves. And the samples—oh, the samples. You can try almost every product they offer. If you don’t see a sample of something out on the store floor, ask one of the friendly staff and they’ll happily see if there’s an open bag behind the counter.
I love Chukar Cherries.
That day, Joe and I stocked up on chocolate-covered Chipotle Cherries (Joe loves smoky snackstuffs), classic Truffle Cherries, and Spiced Hazelnuts, which taste exactly like the holidays. I got two bags of those.
Fueled by our thorough sampling and a refreshing beverage out of the store refrigerator, we were much happier campers.
So thank you, Chukar Cherries, for rescuing my day, my blood sugar levels, and my marriage.
P.S. Chukar Cherries didn’t sponsor this post—I just really love them.