Strawberries and sex—exploring how the fruit became a symbol of teasing sensuality

Nothing screams ‘sexy times’ as much as the ruby-red heart-shaped fruit—we find out the reason.

07 February, 2023
Strawberries and sex—exploring how the fruit became a symbol of teasing sensuality

When one is told to think of the sexiest food item that exists, an image of red, luscious, and juicy strawberries instantly pops up unbridled in our minds. There’s something inherently seductive about the fruit that we can’t quite explain. 

Be it Richard Gere’s Edward offering strawberries and champagne to Julia Roberts’ Vivian in Pretty Woman or Blake Lively’s character Serena van der Woodsen gorging on chocolate-covered strawberries in Gossip Girl, even media has increasingly depicted strawberries sensually. Most recently, we saw Deepika Padukone tease the audience by biting into a ripe strawberry in the song Besharam from Pathaan.

When we see people feasting on strawberries in movies, shows, or even in ads, it’s usually in the backdrop of a romantic or sex scene. The moment we think of chocolate-covered strawberries or strawberries with cream, our mind instantly goes to an NSFW thought, even if for a split second.

But the question is, why? Cosmopolitan India gets to the bottom of it. 

It all started with the Romans 

If you’re wondering how strawberry became the poster child for all things sexy, then you have the Romans to thank. Dr Maitri Chand, a Mumbai-based psychologist elaborates, “Strawberries as fruit have been historically associated with Venus, the goddess for love, sex, beauty, and fertility. They were also offered to people who were getting married as a gift to increase sexual pleasure.” According to lore, there was even a French tradition in villages to serve newlyweds cold strawberry soup to boost honeymoon romance. Chand says these historical contexts have carried on through the ages and are today part of popular culture. 

The proof is in the visuals


In general, foods that resemble genitals have been associated with sex, whether they are aphrodisiacs or not. It’s not limited to strawberries—even items like oysters and bananas have an erotic connect. Leeza Mangaldas, author of The Sex Book and a sex-positive content creator explains, “strawberries are bite-sized, red (a colour often associated with love and desire), sweet, and juicy, so it’s easy to see why they hold erotic and romantic appeal. The sweet juiciness and sensual colours plus textures of fruit often lend themselves to the erotic imagination—whether it’s sucking a mango, biting a strawberry, or squeezing a peach. It’s also pretty common for people today to use fruit emojis like strawberries and bananas to stand in as references to body parts.”

Chand agrees, “A ripe strawberry also looks like a fully engorged breast of a woman, which is why biting into a strawberry with all its juiciness is considered seductive and flirtatious.”

Food and sex are both about pleasure 

One of the reasons strawberries are viewed from a sexual angle is because food, in general, is linked to pleasure, and so is sex. Pastry chef Heena Punwani says, “Food, at the end of the day, is all about pleasure, like sex. It becomes an obvious thing that the two would get merged because both are about joy and pleasure.” 

When it comes to sex, practicality wins 

There’s also the case of ease. With strawberries there’s hardly any effort involved to eat them—no peeling, no cutting, no slicing. According to Mangaldas, since they are easy to eat without any fuss, it makes them a popular choice to include in food foreplay. 

Wait, so are strawberries actually an aphrodisiac?

strawberry chocolate

While there is no scientific evidence to back the claim of strawberries being aphrodisiacs, or directly being linked to your sex drive, their nutritional benefits might help in having good sexual health. The berries are high in vitamin C, which increases blood flow (hello, arousal!) and also deliver plenty of magnesium and potassium—both minerals are known for supporting a healthy sex drive. 

Strawberries as a sex symbol—yay or nay?

For Punwani, it all comes down to the way pop culture depicts it, and how sexualisation makes us feel. “I think the main difference is something being sexual and something becoming objectified. As long as it isn’t taken to the extent where someone feels embarrassed to eat strawberries in public because they think they’re being too suggestive, I have no issues.” For her, the difference also lies in how it is portrayed by media—whether it’s for the viewer’s pleasure or for the person on-screen deriving pleasure from it. 

Whatever the case may be, we are not going to stop gifting chocolate-coated strawberries to our boos on Valentine’s Day or pair the berries with whipped cream for date nights anytime soon. 

What’s your take, reader?