At some point, years ago, we learned that the largest maraschino cherry factory in the US was located in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Always interested in factory tours and local food (this last said with a grin), and often in the neighborhood for bike rides and social events, we searched out the place, hoping to get a look at all the bright red cherries.
But a phone, Google Maps and a search turned up nothing but a plain brick building without identifying markings. We talked about knocking and seeing if we could get an informal tour, Red Hook seems friendly that way, but didn’t. The factory just didn’t feel open in that way.
Some time later, apparently 2010, Dell’s Maraschino Cherry factory was again in the news. Beekeepers in Red Hook found that their bees were making a red concoction rather than their natural honey. The source of the red? The dyed corn syrup in which the cherries are marinated as part of their processing.
Unsurprisingly, bees like sweets! Arthur Mondella, who owned Dell’s (and whose family started the company in the 20s), agreed to take measures to contain his sweet detritus and prevent the bees from getting to it.
A funny story, it seemed, with a happy resolution, until earlier this week, nearly five years later, investigators from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, showed up at the Dell’s factory with a search warrant for documents relating to charges that the company was dumping in the local waters.
Some dicey constructions, the smell of marijuana, and another search warrant led to a surprising discovery and a cascading tragedy you can read about here.