WATERMELON LANDS ON THE COVER OF MAD MAGAZINE!

August 27th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picWhen I was a kid, I used to read MAD magazine like it was the only magazine on the planet. So, you can imagine how tickled I was when I spotted this month’s issue on newsstands which featured Mr. Alfred E. Neuman himself enjoying a big ole wedge of watermelon.

That’s the cover on the right. Loyal MAD fans will appreciate the visual joke which pokes fun at Alfred’s perpetually missing front tooth.

The cover story promises a humorous look at “The 50 Worst Things about Food,” although I’m not sure if watermelon is included on that list. I can’t imagine that it is, because I can’t think of a single bad thing about watermelon.

Does anyone have any ideas for one of the “worst things” about watermelon? The only thing I can think of is the feeling you get when you want some watermelon and then you discover that there’s none in your fridge!

UP NEXT: Celebrating Labor Day tastefully

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AN INSIDE LOOK AT JAPAN’S LEGENDARY $200 SQUARE WATERMELON

August 26th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picDid you know that in Japan it’s customary for people to give fruit as a gift? It’s not uncommon for someone to present his or her neighbor with a simple orange or a small bunch of grapes. Yep, fruit is pretty much revered in Japan. Well, maybe not revered, but they do take fruit pretty seriously, and that’s a good thing.

They’ve even got high-end “fruit emporiums” where people can buy expensive, perfectly shaped fruits to give as gifts at special occasions like weddings, business meetings and hospital visits. One store sells apples for $21 each, strawberries for $69 a dozen and cherries for $159 per box.

But, the star product is the legendary square watermelon, which carries a price tag of more than $200. I’ve talked in the past about how the square watermelon are made – essentially, the watermelons are grown inside a special, square-shaped box – but the video below offers a closer look at the fascinating fruit.

The most incredible insight from the video: The super-expensive watermelons aren’t intended for eating because most of them aren’t even edible! That’s because they’re harvested before they’re fully ripe. Instead, most proud owners of a square watermelon simply keep them as a decorative accessory (they can be displayed for up to a year).

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’d be able to “display” a watermelon for a year in my house. The longest I’ve ever kept a watermelon on my countertop was 37 and a half hours before I cut that sucker open and devoured it.

UP NEXT: Watermelon on the cover of a magazine!

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WATERMELON ACCEPTS THE ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

August 21st, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

By now, you might have seen the flurry of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos making the rounds on Facebook and other social media channels. The premise is simple: Nominees have 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads (while also making a small donation to the ALS Association) or skip the icy bath and donate $100.

The goal, of course, is to raise awareness — and money — for the ALS Association in their fight against the disease. So far, the effort is working, with the ALS Association reporting $31.9 million in funds raised since July 29. That’s 16 times more than it raise during the same period last year!

The National Watermelon Promotion Board recently accepted the challenge AND made a donation to the ALS Association. Check out their video below, and visit the ALS website to make a donation of your own…no donation is too small!

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SECOND SLICE: HEADING BACK TO SCHOOL (WITH A LITTLE WATERMELON)

August 20th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picAhh, back-to-school time. Some kids are excited about it. Some kids dread it. I was one of the few who got excited about it. I’d lay out all my new school supplies days ahead of time, sharpening all my new pencils perfectly, zipping them up in the little plastic pouch in my Trapper Keeper.

Now that I’ve got a four-year-old who’s heading off to pre-school this fall, things like “back-to-school season” take on a new meaning to me, and I’m able to relive some of the bittersweet joys that came with the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year.

I will admit that I really need to work on my pre-schooler lunch-packing skills. According to my wife, a Cup-o-Noodles and a soda aren’t a suitable midday meal for our daughter’s lunch box. (Really? Then why do they fit so perfectly in there?) Besides, that’s exactly what I ate in college on most days, and I did awesome in college. Just sayin’.

And then I think back to my own school lunches. Occasionally, I’d get watermelon in my lunchbox, which happens to be the topic of this post.

Moms everywhere: If your son or daughter is packing a lunch this year (I’m assuming kids still do that), please consider changing up the ole apple and orange fruit rotation by putting a little watermelon in there now and then.

If you need some ideas, you can find some fun recipes for kids on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. Some might be good for lunchboxes. If you want to do something simple, consider just a few chunks of watermelon in a baggie. It’s nutritious, it’s delicious… it’s fun! Throw in a few banana slices and grapes, put it in a plastic container, and that’s great, too.

I assure you I wasn’t pressured into writing this “better lunches” blog entry by a group of angry children. It’s just a simple plea from the kid in me who remembers how great it was to get some watermelon for a mid-afternoon snack now and then.

UP NEXT: A healthy take on a classic dessert

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2014 WATERMELON CARVING CONTEST: VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE CARVING!

August 18th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picSix weeks ago, we asked you to submit carvings for our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest, and you definitely answered the call! We received lots of carvings, and all of them were great, which made it very difficult to choose the first, second and third place winners in each of our five categories:

Best Animal Carving

Most Elegant Carving

Best Fruit Basket

Funniest Carving

Star Spangled Watermelon (patriotic carving)

The folks at the National Watermelon Promotion Board have chosen the winners in each category, and now it’s up to YOU to vote for which carving will win the $500 People’s Choice award.

To vote, stop by the 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest voting page to check out the People’s Choice award contenders and cast your vote before August 31. We’ll announce the People’s Choice winner AND the category winners on September 1. Good luck to all of the competitors, and may the best carving win!

UP NEXT: Back to school (with watermelon)

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YEP, I DROPPED MY WATERMELON

August 15th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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It was bound to happen sooner or later. Over the years, during my grocery shopping unloading chores, I’ve dropped cartons of eggs, jars of pickles and even a bottle of soda which popped its top and sent a geyser of root beer all over the kitchen.

But this past weekend, after twenty-something years of doing my own grocery shopping, I finally dropped a watermelon. You can see the results above. What you can’t see is me standing there in the parking lot next to my car, simultaneously fighting the urge to cry and yell four-letter words for all the world to hear.

The horrifying event happened in what seemed like slow motion. I placed the watermelon in a plastic grocery bag (you can see where this is headed, right?), but I didn’t double bag it. Yes, I know, I really should have double-bagged it – and I usually do – but on this day, I didn’t.

As I was lifting the bag out of the cart and moving it into the trunk of my car, the bottom of the bag suddenly opened up, and my beautiful, seedless snack began its descent to the hot pavement four feet below.

My eyes widened when I saw it happening. My free hand immediately lunged forward in a desperate attempt to catch the fruit, but it was too late. I got a fingertip on it, but my effort wasn’t enough. Down, down, down it went, hitting the parking lot with what sounded like a combination between a hollow thud and a wet splat. (What was most shocking, was how fast the juice flowed from that split watermelon. What you see above happened in just the 15 seconds it took me to put the rest of my groceries in my car.)

After I composed myself, I considered my options. I could scoop up the remnants and toss them in the trash, or I could gather the broken watermelon and try to salvage it to enjoy later. Seeing no major dirt and grime on the red flesh, I opted for the gathering and salvaging option. I also decided to snap a quick photo of the crime scene because I knew this would be a story worth telling.

UP NEXT: The People’s Choice voting in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest begins!

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WOULD YOU STAY IN A WATERMELON-SHAPED HOTEL?

August 12th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m a sports fan, but I have to admit that I’m glad the World Cup is over. It’s not that I don’t like soccer, it’s just that…okay, I don’t like soccer. There, I said it. Sue me. I’m actually a huge baseball fan, and I look forward to the summer months because all the other sports – football, basketball and hockey – are out of season, which allows me to focus all of my attention on America’s Pastime.

I’m not sure if the folks who work in the hospitality business down there in Brazil are happy that the World Cup is over. They saw a nice increase in business during the June and July soccer tournament, but they’re finally able to relax now that it’s done.

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One hotel in particular in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that got its share of World Cup visitors is the Hotel Unique. Yes, that’s actually the hotel’s name. What makes the 95-room hotel so unique? It’s shaped like a giant watermelon!

The $400-per-night hotel was actually sold out from mid-June through mid-July during the World Cup, which is a little surprising, because $400 per night isn’t exactly affordable accommodations. According to a New York Times article, the hotel is known locally as “the ‘Watermelon’ for its striking crescent shape. Hotel Unique tries, and mostly succeeds, to be a combination of quirky and luxurious.”

The funny thing is, the hotel’s architect never really intended for the building to look like a watermelon wedge. He actually designed it to look like the hull of a ship, complete with little porthole windows. What he didn’t realize was that the hotel’s shape and green and red hues evoked thoughts of, you guessed it, watermelon. And those round, porthole-shaped windows? Those are the seeds.

As you can see below, the rooms aren’t all that spacious, but you can’t beat that view from the watermelon seed window!

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UP NEXT: I dropped my watermelon!!!

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RECIPE: WATERMELON PANCAKE SANDWICHES

August 8th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI love making pancakes almost as much I love eating them. It’s pretty much a regular Sunday morning ritual in our house, and I’m the one happily wielding the spatula.

About 90 percent of the time, they’re the regular hotcakes drenched in butter and syrup, but every now and then, I’ll mix it up and throw some chocolate chips, blueberries or cinnamon into the batter. (One time, I was feeling adventurous and added all three ingredients. I don’t recommend it.)

I’ve even been known to add watermelon to our pancake breakfasts. I’ve offered pictures and recipes of those meals in the past (here and here), and I’m happy to share my most recent watermelon-meets-pancake creation with you today.

These Watermelon Pancake Sandwiches are pretty darn tasty. They can also be eaten just like a sandwich (no fork!), which means kids will love them, too. And here’s the real kicker: August is National Sandwich Month, which makes these “sandwiches” a perfect way to celebrate!

WATERMELON PANCAKE SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS

Maple syrup
8 silver dollar-sized (3-4”) pancakes
4 slices seedless watermelon, the same size as the pancakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Spread syrup over one side of each pancake. Place a slice of watermelon on the syrup-brushed side of four of the pancakes. Top the watermelon with the other four pancakes, syrup side down. Serve immediately.

For more tasty ways to use watermelon, check out the “Recipes” page of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: A hotel that looks like a watermelon?

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AUGUST POLL: IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU ENJOY WATERMELON?

August 5th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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I’ve talked in the past about the many ways to enjoy watermelon, beyond the usual wedges and chunks. Don’t get me wrong: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chomping on an ice-cold watermelon wedge on a hot summer day, but I guarantee that you’ll love watermelon even more once you expand your horizons to include things like adding watermelon to a salad or using watermelon in beverages.

A friend recently emailed me a link to a story about “20 ways to use watermelon.” I was happy when I realized that I had already tried many of the methods suggested in the article. Below are a few highlights from the piece. I’ve also included the methods below (and a few others) in this month’s blog poll. Check it out on the right, and feel free to choose as many answers that apply to you!

1. ICE CUBES – Basically, you freeze watermelon cubes and add them to your drinks. They keep your beverages cold AND provide a tasty snack when you’re done sipping!

2. POPSICLE – Cut a small watermelon wedge, shove a popsicle stick in the bottom, and stick it in the freezer. Boom – you’ve got a watermelon popsicle.

3. SALSA – Add some diced watermelon to any salsa (from a jar or one you make yourself) to add a touch of sweetness to your spicy dish.

4. GRILLED CHEESE – Next time you’ve got some bread and cheese, add a thin slice of watermelon, and grill that baby to create a delicious lunch.

5. PICKLED RINDS – I’ve talked about this in the past. Don’t throw that rind away…pickle it!

6. ROASTED SEEDS – This is another part of the watermelon that often gets tossed out. If you’ve got a watermelon with seeds, keep ‘em and roast ‘em up!

UP NEXT: A watermelon sandwich for breakfast?

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AUGUST PRIZE: WHAT BEVERAGE WOULD YOU PUT IN YOUR WATERMELON KEG?

August 1st, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picIt’s a not-so-well-known fact that early explorers used hollowed-out watermelons as canteens to hold water while they were off doing explorer stuff. Considering that watermelons are 92 percent water, using an empty watermelon to store some tasty beverages seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.

These days, you can transform your own watermelon into a beverage dispenser with the help of this month’s prize – the watermelon keg kit ($22.99 on Amazon). The kit includes a faucet with a handle, a shank (I’m not 100 percent sure what that is, but it sounds important), a coring tool and installation instructions. Bonus: The kit can also be used with pumpkins for fall celebrations.

According to the product’s description, all you need to do is “follow the fool-proof instructions and in no time flat you’ll have a watermelon cocktail keg that will be the envy of all your guests. It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s a surefire hit at any fun time event!”

What beverage you fill your watermelon keg with is up to you. Maybe you’ll be tempted to fill it with beer (I know I would), but you might also choose to make a watermelon-based drink from any of the recipes found on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. After my wife steered me away from filling it with beer, I’d probably opt for a simple yet refreshing drink like watermelon agua fresca.

Leave a comment below with what YOU’D fill your watermelon keg with if you won this prize. I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month as the winner. Cheers!

UP NEXT: 20 ways to enjoy watermelon

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