TSAMMA WATERMELON JUICE HAS ARRIVED!

July 28th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI’m a juice fan. Apple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, you name it. As a watermelon lover, however, I’m a little frustrated by the lack of watermelon juices on the market. Oh sure, you’ll find watermelon-flavored beverages out there, but many of them only taste like watermelon, and are loaded with all sorts of other things.

So when I heard about a new product called Tsamma watermelon juice, I got excited. And when I read more about the product, I got even more excited.

Tsamma watermelon juice is 100 percent juice and has no added sugar. It’s made with 95 percent watermelon juice, and uses over a pound of fresh watermelon to make each 8-ounce serving!

The juice is made by Frey Farms, which is one of the largest watermelon shippers in the United States. I recently chatted with Sarah Frey-Talley (who founded Frey Farms in 1994 at the age of 17!), and asked her a few questions about the new juice and what it’s like to work side-by-side with her family.

Sarah, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk with me! Since this is an interview about watermelon, I have to ask: Are you a chunks or wedges kind of person?

That’s not really a fair question! I have millions of watermelons available to me throughout the year so I’m a bust-it-open-and-eat-the-heart-in-the-field kind of girl. However, when I slice them up at home I like the presentation of the wedge better.

You founded Frey Farms in 1994 when you were just 17! What motivated you to do something so ambitious at such a young age?

When I was a child, I would accompany my mother on a small melon delivery route. My job was to walk into the store make the sale, unload the melons and collect the cash.  I loved it so much that I decided to make a career out of it. I’m still doing what I enjoyed most as a child. That’s my definition of success.

Frey Farms is actually a family business. You work alongside your brothers, and together you make it all happen. Is working with family challenging at all, or does it make it more rewarding?

Both! We all do what suits our strengths best. Working with family is definitely one way to stay in touch. :)

There are so many different juices in stores – apple juice, orange juice, grape juice – what’s the inspiration behind a watermelon juice?

Watermelon juice is the most refreshing and hydrating juice on the market!  The inspiration for Tsamma can be directly attributed to the ingredients panels on most juices and sports drinks. Ugh! I’m just a melon farmer but even most doctors can’t pronounce half of the ingredients used in most sport drinks.

The purpose of Tsamma juice is to hydrate, replenish and recover. The bonus is that it tastes amazing! It delivers key vitamins and minerals to the body, but it’s very light and refreshing. Most premium juices are very thick and you tend to want to sip them, but not Tsamma. You actually drink this juice!

In case anyone is wondering, the name of the juice is pronounced “sah-mah,” but how did the juice get its name?

We named our drink Tsamma to pay homage to the ancient ancestor of all modern watermelon varieties. The Tsamma melon grows wild in the Kalahari Desert and is still used as a source of hydration.

I’m sure our readers would love to buy some Tsamma watermelon juice. Where can they find it?

It’s available coast-to-coast in many retailers, including Whole Foods in the Midwest, Hannaford Bros in the northeast, The Fresh Market nationally and Dollar General Market stores.

You can find it in Michigan retailers such as Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Neiman’s Family Market, Foster’s Market, Harding’s Market, Glen’s, Shop-N-Save Food Centers, University Foods, VG’s Food Center, and Hollywood Super Market. Tsamma is also coming soon to select Walmart stores in Florida and the Midwest!

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WEEK FOUR WATERMELON PRIZE: A WATERMELON NAPKIN AND PLATE HOLDER!

July 25th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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In my opinion, I’ve saved the best weekly National Watermelon Prize for last. It’s the handmade wooden plate and napkin holder set you see above. Why is it the best prize? That’s a good question.

First, it’s just plain fun and cool-looking. If you’re at an event that requires paper or plastic plates and paper napkins, there’s a good chance that something that looks like this prize will be a big hit. There’s also a good chance that watermelon is being served, and any time you can match your decorations to the menu, you know you’re doing something right.

It’s also useful. We’ve all been to barbeques and picnics where the slightest gust of wind sends the stack of plates and napkins flying off the table and through the yard. That’s not fun for anyone but the family dog, who might like to chase the napkins as they flutter onto the neighbor’s lawn.

Leave a comment below if you’d like this conversation starter at your next backyard party. I’ll choose one comment at random to win it!

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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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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

 

water finished

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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