THIRSTY? IT’S NATIONAL DRINK WATERMELON DAY!

July 24th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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Last week, I wrote about July 24 and how the National Climactic Data Center has declared it the hottest day of the year. Will there be hotter days in August in your area? Maybe, but the temperature nationwide (on average) is higher today than any other day of the year.

With that heat wave in mind, the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) has declared today “National Drink Watermelon Day.”

The NWPB is working with several bloggers to help spread the word and some recipes for how you can drink your watermelon. Here are just a few of the highlights:

picHealthy Slow Cooking – Watermelon Lemon-Balm Mint Cooler

Run Eat Repeat – Watermelon Sangria

The Fit Fork – Watermelon Ginger Limeade (right)

Family Spice – How to Make Watermelon Juice

Chocolate Moosey – Watermelon Yogurt Pops (below)

Mother Would Know – Watermelon Agua Fresca

Wholesome Mommy – Refreshing Watermelon and Green Tea Ice Pops

Elizabeth Somer blog – Watermelon Zapper

If you’re thirsty (today or any other warm day this summer), feel free to check out any of the blogger recipes. You can also stay hydrated with some of the drink recipes on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. Cheers!

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SECOND SLICE: AN INTERVIEW WITH A MASTER WATERMELON CARVER

July 23rd, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

The National Watermelon Promotion Board is celebrating National Watermelon Month with our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest. They’re giving away $2,000 in prizes (including $1,000 to our grand prize “People’s Choice” winner), and the first 50 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board.

The deadline for entries is August 4. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest page for categories, entry requirements and more details!

picPretty much everyone has carved a pumpkin at some point, typically around Halloween and usually in the old “triangle eyes and toothy grin” jack-o-lantern style. Of course, you can also carve watermelon, but until there’s a holiday that turns watermelon carving into a tradition – in the same way the egg enthusiasts scored a win with Easter – most people will probably never carve a watermelon.

By “most people,” I’m definitely not referring to artist Hugh McMahon. Hugh is an artistic genius when it comes to carving pumpkins and watermelons. His creations (a sampling of which can be seen on the right) have been featured worldwide in restaurants, events, magazines, books and on TV.

Hugh’s specialty is celebrity portraits carved on pumpkins, including designs created for Ronald Reagan and Martha Stewart, but his elaborate floral watermelon centerpieces are equally stunning. (Check out the video of Hugh in action at the bottom of this entry.) I recently had an opportunity to interview Hugh about his handiwork, and here’s what he had to say.

Q: How is carving a watermelon different from carving a pumpkin? Does each offer its own unique advantages?

Carving the watermelon is more messy and sticky, but what I like about the watermelon is that it’s more colorful.

Q: What’s the most unusual design you’ve ever been asked to carve?

I once carved a bullfight in many watermelons for a Marriott Marquis tapas station at a party. I also carved the life history of James Beard for the James Beard Foundation in 15 watermelons. You can find me carving a portrait of James Beard on the video below. You can also see watermelons on my webpage, gochelsea.com/pumpkins.

Q: What do you do with all the watermelon that you scoop out of each creation? I ask because I carved a watermelon once, and I pretty much ate everything as I was scooping it out. It’s not something I’m proud of (neither the carving nor the gluttony). I guess the real question is: Do you enjoy eating watermelons as much as you enjoy carving them?

I do eat some as I am cleaning it out, but most of it I squeeze into watermelon juice. I prefer it that way. I drank some fresh-squeezed watermelon yesterday.

Q: Have you ever considered branching out beyond pumpkins and watermelon and carving other fruits and vegetables? Could there be a cucumber or cantaloupe sculpture somewhere in your future?

I do carve other fruits and vegetables. I’ve carved apples for the cover of Time Out New York magazine, and I’ve carved cantaloupe, squash, peppers. I’ve also created bread sculptures. For the children’s book coming out this summer, I did some carvings with turnips, peppers and broccoli.

 

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GET READY FOR NATIONAL DRINK WATERMELON DAY!

July 21st, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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According to the National Climatic Data Center, July 24 is considered to be the hottest day of the year. And, like any day when the temperature is high, you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids.

With that good advice in mind, the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) has officially proclaimed July 24 as “National Drink Watermelon Day.”

How do you “drink watermelon,” you ask? You can create beverages that use watermelon (check out the recipes on the NWPB website), or you can simply eat watermelon. At 92 percent water, watermelon boasts a refreshingly high water content, making it almost like a beverage you can eat! It’s also rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making it a natural power drink.

National Drink Watermelon Day couldn’t come at a better time, either. Besides being the hottest day of the year, historically, you might remember the research conducted by the NWPB that revealed some important findings about Americans and hydration. Among the findings: Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) agree that, of all produce, watermelon is the one they would choose to eat to help them hydrate.

So, go ahead and grab some watermelon and mark your calendars for July 24! Also, check out this video of nutritionist, dietician and watermelon-lover Elizabeth Somer talking about National Drink Watermelon Day! And stay tuned for another blog entry on July 24 that offers a look at some watermelon recipes from a variety of bloggers.

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WEEK THREE WATERMELON PRIZE: WATERMELON EARRINGS!

July 20th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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I don’t wear earrings or, as some guys do, even a single earring. When I was 14 years old, I wanted an earring, though. A few of my friends had one and, like most teenagers, I was willing to do whatever it took to follow in their sometimes-misguided footsteps.

And so, I summoned the courage to ask my parents if I could get my ear pierced. To my surprise, my parents obliged, but with one condition: I had to let my grandfather be the one to give me that piercing. (Apparently, he had some experience with the task, which surprised me even more than my parents’ willing response.)

I was already squeamish at the thought of putting a hole in my head, but the idea of letting my 70-something-year-old granddad do the job was enough to make me call off my plans to join my friends in their pursuit of early-90s coolness.

Of course, if I did pierce my year back then, I probably would have worn a simple gold stud and not the silver-plated watermelon earrings featured as this week’s National Watermelon Month prize. That’s them in the photo at the top of this entry. They’re tiny, they’re tasteful, and they’re perfect for the watermelon lover in your life.

I’ll give them away to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments left on the blog this month. To get the conversation started, feel free to answer this question: If you have your ear(s) pierced, would you wear these earrings? If not, do you know someone who would?

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Don’t forget to enter your best watermelon carving in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest! The deadline for entries is August 4. There are $2,000 in prizes and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest web page for categories, entry requirements and more details.

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KEEP THOSE CARVINGS COMING!

July 16th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Like I mentioned in an entry in June, the National Watermelon Promotion Board is celebrating National Watermelon Month with the 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest. The board is giving away $2,000 in prizes (including $500 to our grand prize “People’s Choice” winner) and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board.

The deadline for entries is August 4. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest web page for categories, entry requirements and more details. We’ve received lots of entries so far, but we’ve still got some of those watermelon cutting boards left, so get your entries in soon to get one of your own!

As inspiration for your carvings, I’ve decided to feature the four carvings I’ve done so far this year. Check ‘em out below and let me know which one is your favorite by leaving a comment. And don’t be a joker and say the golf ball is your favorite, because I already know that one is terrible.

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The Watermelon Lego

 

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The Watermelon Owl

 

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The Watermelon Golf Ball

 

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The Watermelon Vase

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OUR NEXT WATERMELON PRIZE: THE WATERMELON FAN!

July 14th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI went camping this past weekend, and the weather was actually pretty nice. A little warm – maybe even what you’d call “hot” – which is why I was glad my wife convinced me to pack an extra cooler full of drinks and watermelon. You didn’t think I’d go camping without watermelon, did you?

I fell in the creek while I was fishing, which helped me stay relatively cool (even if I looked decidedly uncool while I was flailing around in the water), but I could have used this week’s watermelon prize, too.

It’s a battery-powered, hand-held fan shaped like a little watermelon guy (available on Amazon.com). The fan is perfect for a trip to the ballpark, campsite, or wherever you might need a little breeze to cool you down. Said one Amazon reviewer: “I was very surprised at how much air it puts out. […] I found it good enough to cool me down when I’m having a hot flash.”

I’ll give it away to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments left on the blog this month. Good luck…and, if you go fishing any time in the near future, don’t forget to wear a life jacket.

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Don’t forget to enter your best watermelon carving in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest! The deadline for entries is August 4. There are $2,000 in prizes and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest web page for categories, entry requirements and more details. 

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION UPDATE: I CAME, I ATE, I SAW FROGS JUMPING

July 9th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picSix months ago, as has become my annual tradition, I made a New Year’s resolution to tackle something on my watermelon bucket list. This year’s goal: to compete in a watermelon-eating contest. The 26-week process of completing this resolution has been fun, to say the least – from choosing a contest to compete in, to interviewing a professional competitive eater, to practicing at home in preparation for the big day.

The watermelon-eating contest I took part in was an annual tradition at the Bel Air 4th of July Festival in Bel Air, Maryland (about 90 minutes from where I live).

We arrived at the festival (my wife, daughter and I) about an hour before the 11:30 a.m. eating contest, just in time to catch the end of “The Great Bel Air Frog Jumping Contest” in Shamrock Park. True to its name, it featured frogs jumping, and it was probably the highlight of the day for our three-year-old. (The contest winner was a frog named Honey Boo Boo Child with a three-jump total of 102 inches!)

But I wasn’t there for the frog jumping contest in Shamrock Park; I was there for the watermelon-eating contest in Shamrock Park. After adding my name to the list of participants in the 17-and-older category, we took a stroll around the crowded and festive park to kill some time before my competitive eating showdown began.

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Alright, I’m not going to bore you with a recap of my stroll around Shamrock Park – let’s get right to the contest. Each competitor was given a nice-sized wedge of watermelon with simple instructions that the first person to finish (eat it down to the white rind and have an empty mouth) would be declared the winner. (Above is a photo of the 7-10 year old competitors proudly displaying their watermelon wedges before the contest.)

After a countdown from 10 – which seemed like it took three full minutes – the eating had begun. About 17-and-older contestants were clustered together and the 20 of us created quite the symphony of chomping and slurping sounds. And almost as quickly as it had begun, the contest was over.

A gentleman from Forest Hill, Maryland was declared the winner, and boy did he ever do a good job of eating that wedge right down to the rind. I’m not 100 percent sure where I finished – probably fourth or fifth – which isn’t too bad. I’m happy with that performance. I had a lot of fun preparing for the contest and you can be sure that I’ll be back again next year to take another shot at the watermelon-eating title!

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SECOND SLICE: WATERMELON-CARVING TIPS

July 7th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

First thing’s first: Yes, I competed in a watermelon-eating contest on Friday. Did I win? You’ll have to wait until Wednesday for my recap!

Second, I’m giving today’s entry the “Second Slice” treatment to help everyone with their carvings for this year’s Watermelon Carving Contest. Not that many of you NEED much help. I’ve seen some of the submissions so far, and they all look amazing. Keep ‘em coming!

picSome of you might have already started your watermelon carving for this year’s Watermelon Carving Contest. Others might still be trying to figure out which carving to create.

Either way, there’s still plenty of time left to submit your entry before the August 4 deadline for your shot at the $500 grand prize or one of the first, second and third place prizes in each category. And don’t forget, the first 50 entrants automatically receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board! (That’s mine under the hippo on the right.)

To help with the carving process, I’ve dusted off some tips originally posted here on the blog during last year’s contest.

TIP #1: USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Over the course of carving various watermelon animals, I’ve learned that one knife will not get the job done, especially on the more intricate creations. In many cases, even two knives aren’t enough. For most of my carvings, I’ve needed three knives: one long carving knife for the big cuts, one medium-sized steak knife for other tasks, and one small paring knife (or smaller if you’ve got one) for the detail work. Arm yourself with all three tools, and you’re well on your way to creating a winning carving in this year’s contest!

TIP #2: BE PATIENT!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while carving each of those designs, it’s the importance of being patient and taking your time. Carving a watermelon requires a little extra care and precision. It’s not like carving a pumpkin, which has a more rigid and forgiving surface. Not to mention that my watermelon carvings were much more intricate than any pumpkin carving I’d ever done (most of which were just three triangles and a jagged mouth).

So, take your time with your watermelon carving and think about each step and each cut before you make it. A good watermelon carving might take you an hour or two to create, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

Hopefully, these tips help you in your watermelon-carving process. Honestly, though, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. Good luck with the watermelon carvings, and remember: Even if you’ve never carved a watermelon, you should still enter this year’s carving contest. Some of the best carvings in last year’s contest were from first-time carvers!

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IT’S IN THE BAG: OUR WEEK ONE NATIONAL WATERMELON MONTH PRIZE

July 5th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I was thinking yesterday about Independence Day, and how it’s one of the only holidays that we, as Americans, observe with a celebration that actually fits the true meaning of the holiday. That celebration usually involves everything that we’ve come to know and love about the good ol’ US of A, including fireworks and barbeques piled high with a smorgasbord of sizzling meat.

We did both in my household (we’re actually heading out to see fireworks tonight). I even grilled up some watermelon for the burgers, which is a Fourth of July tradition of sorts.

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Speaking of watermelon, our first National Watermelon Month prize is here and up for grabs! It’s the absolutely adorable little watermelon bag seen above. (My wife’s description, not mine.)

I bought it on Etsy, and the person who made it describes it as “a sweet little bag for your money, keys and credit cards.” The seller also listed the bag’s measurements as 17 centimeters wide and nine centimeters high. I’m not good with the metric system, so that could mean it’s four feet wide or maybe four inches wide. Either way, you can put your keys and credit cards in it. (NOTE: I just used a handy conversion calculator – it’s 6.7 inches wide by 3.5 inches high.)

I’ll choose one comment from all the comments left on the blog this month to win this “adorable” bag. To get things started, leave a comment with what you’d put in this bag if you won it!

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THE WATERMELON RETAILER DISPLAY CONTEST IS HERE (CHECK OUT THESE DISPLAYS!)

July 3rd, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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I don’t know what the watermelon display at your local grocery store looks like, but I’ll bet it doesn’t look nearly as awesome as the display above (from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL). The watermelon spread in my local supermarket is pretty standard – just a cardboard bin full of watermelon.

The image above was submitted in past years in the National Watermelon Promotion Board’s annual Retailer Display Contest. The contest challenges retailers to create their most eye-catching watermelon displays and awards almost $4,000 in prizes to winners chosen in each region of the United States. (Details and a full set of rules can be found on the contest web page.)

Below are just a few of the cool creations cooked up by produce managers in stores across the nation over the past few years. Pretty awesome, right?

I don’t necessarily NEED a lavish display, but if I walked into a store and was greeted with an image like any of the ones below, I’d probably fill my entire cart with watermelon and forget everything else on my shopping list!

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