I know they’re just gummified rounds of corn syrup, packed with food coloring and artificial flavoring, but there’s something terribly tasty about peach rings.

Synthetic fruit flavors tend to be horrible approximations of the actual taste they advertise; most of them, to put it politely, are “not my favorite.” Fake cherry and fake strawberry? They make me cry a little. Full disclosure: fake banana and watermelon flavor are eons away from their real counterparts, yet they are quite appealing in their own disturbing way.

But those peachy rings are the only other outlier. Open a fresh bag of yellow-and-orange gummies, and draw in a deep breath of their alluring aroma.

However. Pick up a bag of actual fresh peaches, and breathe in their scent as deeply as you can. No “natural and artificial flavorings” necessary--it’s intoxicating.

Few things illicit such profound, simple pleasure as perfectly ripe fresh peaches.

With such a captivating flavor, it’s hard to think about much else in regards to this luscious fruit. I’m usually more focused on the juice dripping down my chin and over everything else within range than I am on ponderings of when National Peach Month is (August), or how many varieties exist (around 2,000!).

But did you know peaches originated in China? Their Latin name is confusingly “Persian plum,” thanks to Alexander the Great bringing the seeds to Europe from what is now Iran. Peaches were long the preferred delicacy for royalty all over from the China Sea to the Iberian Peninsula. Spanish monks brought them to St. Augustine, Florida, in the mid-1500s; we’ve been hooked ever since.

Peaches and peach blossoms are often used to symbolize peace, life, and longevity, not only because the fruit is so delicious, but also because they bloom in early spring, one of the harbingers of the new life to come.

All peaches can be categorized within two major categories, either freestone or clingstone, in regards to how “sticky” the pit is. Trying to remove the pits from cling varieties is an irksome task, especially in contrast to the stark ease with which freestone pits pop out, but clingstone flesh is often sweeter and juicier--so it’s a win-win situation no matter which type you get.

Encased within that pit’s woody exterior is the peach’s actual seed. Crack it open, and at first glance, you might think you’ve found the secret birthplace of almonds. Oddly enough, you can actually use this little seed to infuse liquids with an almond/amaretto flavor, but don’t eat one. Trust me, it’s not an almond, and it sure doesn’t taste like one. It’s quite bitter and distasteful, thanks to the naturally occurring low-level cyanide that functions as a predator deterrent. Told you not to eat one.

You can find peaches of yellow or white flesh in both pit types; yellow have a fuller and more acidic flavor, popular in the West, while white are more common in the East, with a sweeter and subtler profile.

Whichever variety you find, enjoy them.

Eat fresh ripe peaches now in their heyday, and save the peach rings for later.