ONE MORE REASON WHY ASTRONAUTS HAVE THE COOLEST JOB IN THE WORLD

November 18th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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Watermelon is awesome — we all know that. I’ve written in the past about how the Japanese love watermelon so much that they give it away as gifts and display expensive square watermelons in their homes as decorations.

They’re not the only ones who appreciate the gesture of a good watermelon. It’s customary for Russian cosmonauts to also receive watermelon (among other fruits) after missions in outer space. Above is cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev being showered with fruit in September after returning to Earth from a five-and-a-half month space mission.

If it sounds like a pretty underwhelming gift for someone who spent half a year in a weightless environment, you’d be right, but the fruit has practical benefits, too. After six months of dining on rehydrated astronaut food, even something as ordinary as a watermelon can be a pretty awesome treat.

I can relate, too. I’ve never spent six months in outer space, but I did serve in the Navy on board a nuclear submarine. We’d often spend six months or more at sea, and while our dining options were slightly better than an astronaut’s (although that’s debatable), we also didn’t have the luxuries of fresh watermelon during our voyages under the sea.

When we finally returned to our home port, things like a bowl of ice cream, a fast food burger and a slice of watermelon were like a meal in a four-star restaurant. So, welcome back, Mr. Russian Cosmonaut, and enjoy that watermelon!

UP NEXT: A Thanksgiving drink the kids will love

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GOOD LUCK TO THE WATERMELON CAR THIS WEEKEND (AND LEAVE A COMMENT TO WIN A PRIZE!)

November 14th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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I’ve written in the past about professional racecar driver Ross Chastain and his sponsorship by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. I’m happy to announce that Ross has since made the leap from racing on the Florida circuit and raced the Watermelon.org car in his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race earlier this year.

For those who aren’t familiar, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a step below the big leagues of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which means a Sprint Cup appearance could be next for Ross. His schedule is pretty busy this weekend, because Ross is racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tonight (that’s him and his watermelon truck below) and then jumping into the #10 Watermelon.org Toyota Camry (above) for a NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday.

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While doing a little research about Ross, I found out that many announcers refer to him as “the watermelon guy.” How he earned that nickname is pretty clear (his family actually grew watermelons when he was growing up, too), but that’s also my nickname. It’s okay, though, I’m willing to share the title with him.

From one watermelon guy to another, here’s wishing Ross plenty of good luck in this weekend’s races! Leave a comment to wish Ross some luck of your own. I’ll choose one comment at random to win something signed by Ross. I’m not sure what that something will be, but it’ll be pretty cool!

UP NEXT: Russian astronauts sure do love watermelon

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RECIPE: CARROT, PISTACHIO AND WATERMELON SALAD

November 14th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Our last recipe offered a tasty alternative to traditionally boring Thanksgiving breakfasts. Today’s recipe is one that might actually make an appearance at the dinner table. Or, if not at the dinner table, maybe it’s something you can whip up as a pre-meal snack for hungry guests!

CARROT, PISTACHIO ANDpic

WATERMELON SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup blueberry vinegar or 1/4 cup blueberry juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon cracked pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups shredded carrots
4 cups small-cubed seedless watermelon
1 cup roasted, salted and shelled chopped pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together the blueberry vinegar, Italian herb blend, pepper and honey. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture in a slow stream until thickened. Layer the shredded carrot, watermelon and pistachio nuts in a shallow bowl or deep serving platter. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: We’re rooting for the “Watermelon Guy” of NASCAR (No, it’s not me!)

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ONE OF THE MOST DEDICATED WATERMELON LOVERS IN THE WORLD

November 12th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve got many years until I even need to think about retirement (although, it sure would be nice to retire tomorrow!), but there are some folks who happily work full-time jobs well into their golden years. And not because they have to, but because they genuinely love what they do and have no interest in giving it up.

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Novalene Slatton is one of those hard-working members of what Tom Brokaw refers to as “The Greatest Generation.” Novalene is 90 years old and has been working at the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years. Novalene answers phones for the Chamber of Commerce three days a week and says one of her favorite tasks is raising funds for Hope’s annual watermelon festival.

The money she earns from her job is put to good use, too. She contributes to savings accounts for her three grandchildren, each of whom are in college or recently graduated. Said Novalene in a Yahoo! news article about her work, “I just don’t want to stay at home by myself and look at four walls. So many people have retired, and then they say they’re bored to death.”

Keep in mind, Hope, Arkansas is a hotbed of watermelon-growing activity. In fact, the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce website proudly proclaims the region as the “home of the world’s largest watermelons.”

picThat means Novalene knows a thing or two about watermelon, especially because her husband Paul is an accomplished watermelon-grower himself. That’s him and Novalene on the right with some of their impressive crops.

It’s the kind of dedication and determination that we admire in Novalene and that makes her a top choice for one of the most loyal watermelon enthusiasts.

UP NEXT: A Thanksgiving salad like no other

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SECOND SLICE: LOVE WATERMELON? THANK THE BEES!

November 10th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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To grow a watermelon, you need three key ingredients (besides soil and watermelon seeds, of course): sunlight, water, and bees. The first two necessities should come as no surprise, but the last one might sound a little unusual.

You see, bees buzz from blossom to blossom, picking up pollen and spreading it around throughout the day. They do this in one of two ways: Either by carrying the pollen to another flower themselves or by transferring the pollen to other bees in the hive, who then transport the pollen during their daily routine.

And it’s not just watermelon that bees bring to life. They actually play a role in a third of the foods that we eat! More than 100 agricultural crops in the U.S. are pollinated by bees of all types, including honeybees (the busiest of the bee population), bumblebees and solitary bees.

Some foods can’t exist without the hard work of bees. Watermelon is one of these category four “essential” crops, along with cantaloupe, cocoa and vanilla. Other crops, like cucumbers, apples, mangos, avocados, pears and almonds, are category three foods, meaning that bees play a great role in their pollination.

To be fair, I should point out that our buzzing buddies aren’t alone in their pollination duties. They get a little help from flies, beetles and butterflies, but bees certainly perform the lion’s share of the task.

So, the next time you’re enjoying some watermelon in the backyard, and you see a bee going about its everyday tasks, pause for a moment to offer thanks. I’m not sure how to communicate gratitude to a bee, but a simple smile and nod should do.

UP NEXT: One of the most dedicated watermelon lovers in the world

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MIKE ROWE: FUTURE WATERMELON SEED SPITTING CHAMP?

November 10th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

You may know Mike Rowe from his hit TV show, “Dirty Jobs.” These days, he’s the host of CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” a new show that brings viewers “face-to-face with men and women who march to the beat of a different drum.” CNN also calls it a show about “passion, purpose, and, occasionally, hobbies that get a little out of hand.”

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In a recent episode, Mike paid a visit to the hallowed watermelon festival grounds of the Luling Watermelon Thump. While there, he stopped by the Luling Spitway, which hosts the annual World Seed Spitting Championship. It’s also where Lee Wheeler entered the Guinness Book of World Records by spitting a watermelon seed more than 68 feet in 1989.

Of course, Mike put his spittin’ skills to the test, and you can see the results in the video below. The video stops short of revealing his official distance (maybe you can catch the episode in reruns), but it was probably much further than my distance!

UP NEXT: Why you should hug a bee today

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RECIPE: MUFFIN CRUMBLE PARFAIT

November 7th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI’ll be featuring three recipes this month on the Fridays leading up to Thanksgiving. Each one can be loosely applied to Turkey Day, starting with this one!

Breakfast is often overlooked or lost in the shuffle of all the Thanksgiving day festivities. If you have relatives who spend the night, you might serve them something quick and easy while you get the turkey in the oven, but it’s never something befitting of a day with such high culinary expectations.

This recipe for a tasty Muffin Crumble Parfait will change that. It’s still quick and easy, but it’s an upgrade from the plain bagel or bowl of cereal you might serve. Enjoy!

MUFFIN CRUMBLE PARFAIT

INGREDIENTS

3 small bran muffins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fat free vanilla-flavored yogurt
2 cups chopped seedless watermelon (well-drained)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
4 cups small cubes of watermelon

INSTRUCTIONS

Crumble the muffins and divide among the bottom of four 12-ounce glasses, reserving about ¾ cup of the crumble. Mix the cinnamon and yogurt, and divide half of it over the crumbled muffin in the glass. Divide the watermelon and dried cranberries over the yogurt in the glasses. Divide the remaining yogurt over the watermelon and dried cranberries. Divide the remaining muffin crumble over the glasses, and top with honey. Garnish with the toasted sliced almonds, and top with watermelon cubes.

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section
of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: Mike Rowe Tries His Hand at Watermelon Seed Spittin’

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NOVEMBER PRIZE: A WATERMELON-SCENTED CANDLE!

November 5th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picFall has officially arrived. Actually, it arrived about six weeks ago, but it’s definitely here in my neck of the woods. I know that for two reasons: 1) Because I spent much of October raking leaves in our yard, and 2) My wife has unearthed our stockpile of fall-scented candles.

Her collection includes all sorts of delicious-smelling options like Pumpkin Pie and Banana Nut Bread. They smell very much like November and make me very hungry every time she burns them. That temptation is the inspiration behind this month’s prize: the watermelon-scented candle.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “But Watermelon Guy, isn’t a watermelon-scented candle more appropriate for June or July?”

The answer, for most folks, is “yes,” but I’ve always been a firm believer that watermelon shouldn’t be confined to the spring and summer months. It should be enjoyed all year round, and that includes savoring its sweet scent even when there might be eight inches of snow on the ground.

If you agree, leave a comment below. I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month to win the candle!

This particular “Juicy Watermelon” candle is made by Yankee Candle, and it’s the big 22-ounce size, which means you’ll get 110 to 150 hours of burning time out of it. If you burn it for one hour every day starting in December, it’ll last until the beginning of May. Hello, spring!

UP NEXT: An unforgettable Thanksgiving breakfast

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

October 31st, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Happy Halloween, everyone! I found the image above while poking around for a Halloween-related watermelon photo. It’s an eerie postcard from the olden days, made only eerier by the “Salem, Mass” at the top. (Home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, of course.)

What I don’t understand about the image is why a witch would need to be chauffeured around in a watermelon car in the first place? I mean, aren’t witches supposed to be able to fly on brooms? She’s even holding her broom! One possible explanation is that she just likes to show off her awesome watermelon car. I know I would if I had one. Or maybe her broom isn’t working and she’s on her way to get it repaired. Yeah, that’s probably what’s happening in this picture.

Not all vintage Halloween postcards feature watermelon (actually, the card above was the only one I found). Most are just weird. Like the one below. The little witch is adorable, but that thing standing next to her would get a door slammed in his face if he ever stopped by my house for a trick-or-treat visit. And I’m pretty sure he stole the little witch’s hat. Give it back, Mr. Creepy. While you’re at it, please put the cat down.

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Nowadays, when I think of watermelon and Halloween, I much prefer images like the one below. I carved this charming jack-o-melon last year and even propped him up on my front porch with a candle inside. It’s simple, it’s festive, and it doesn’t make me afraid to open my door when I hear a little tap-tap-tapping on my door on Halloween night.

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UP NEXT: Our November prize!

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ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO! A RECAP OF THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON

October 29th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Of all the events on the National Watermelon Promotion Board calendar, one of the biggest (and most fun) is the annual Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia. The event — which took place this past weekend — is HUGE, with 30,000 runners converging from all 50 states and more than 50 countries!

How big is it? It’s the fifth largest marathon in the United States and the ninth largest in the world. And with that many hungry, thirsty runners (and their proud family and friends), you can imagine the National Watermelon Promotion Board team is pretty busy giving away nearly 50,000 watermelon samples. Yes, you read that right…50,000. That’s a lot of watermelon.

Below are a few photos from this year’s marathon.

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The National Watermelon Queen, Brandi Harrison (left), and the regional watermelon queens descended on the nation’s capital for a little sight-seeing before joining the marathon festivities.

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The official mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps, Chesty, paid a visit to the National Watermelon Promotion Board booth to meet National Watermelon Queen Brandi Harrison and nibble on a few samples of watermelon.

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At the marathon finish festival, the watermelon queens and the National Watermelon Promotion Board team gave away more than 10 TONS of watermelon samples (20,000 of the containers you see above) to onlookers and hungry marathon runners.

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The watermelon queens (here’s Mar-Del Watermelon Queen, Shelby Hurley) took to the streets around the National Watermelon Promotion Board booth to give away watermelon samples to thousands of people.

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Even J. Slice got in on the action by cheering on the kid’s marathon runners and giving away watermelon samples. Here he is with Illiana Watermelon Queen, Emily Brown.

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The National Watermelon Promotion Board team not only gave away LOTS of watermelon, they also participated in the race! Here’s the National Watermelon Promotion Board’s own Juliemar Rosado (left) and her sister, Melissa Coffey, after finishing the 10K.

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It was a long day, and a “job well done” by everyone involved, but the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon is officially in the books and we’re already counting down the days until next year’s marathon!

UP NEXT: Creepy old Halloween postcards

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