November 30th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy


Photo courtesy of GroEdibles

So, I was sitting on my back porch the other day, snacking on some watermelon cubes, when I began to think. Normally, that can be a good or bad thing, but these thoughts were all about watermelon. More specifically, its history.

I came to the realization that I didn’t know much about watermelon and how it became the awesome fruit that it is today. So I did what anyone in the 21st century would do: I Googled it. Here’s what I learned:

According to National Geographic, watermelon originated about 5,000 years ago in southern Africa, looking something like the ones in the image above. Back then, it was a very different watermelon than the one we know and love today (more on the evolution of the watermelon in a future blog entry). The earliest “wild” watermelons were a varied bunch. Some were sweet, some were bitter, and some were bland. In time, breeding would take care of that inconsistency, but folks still loved the watermelon, and it soon spread to Egypt.


Photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel

It was in Egypt — still almost 5,000 years ago — that the first recorded watermelon harvest took place. Oh yes, those Egyptians LOVED watermelon. They loved it so much, watermelon seeds were found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Egyptians often buried kings with seeds to plant and grow food in the afterlife and also to ward off evil spirits. That may have been the intent, but I like to think that King Tut was maybe just a big fan of watermelon and enjoyed playfully spitting the seeds at his friends.

So, what was it about the watermelon that appealed to the Egyptians (keeping in mind that the early watermelons were bitter and bland)? Much of the appeal was the water content of the watermelon and its usefulness in keeping folks hydrated in hot Egyptian desert climates. That benefit is also why the watermelon soon began to be traded throughout Africa.

It wasn’t long before the watermelon made its way across the Mediterranean Sea to other countries. By the 7th century, it was being cultivated in India. By the early 10th century (or late 9th century, depending on the source), it was popping up all over the place in China.

It took a little while for it to catch on in other parts of Europe, but catch on it did around 1600. It was around that same time that European colonists introduced watermelon to the New World in North America. Spanish settlers were a little quicker to make the introduction, and began growing watermelon in Florida in 1576. By 1629, it was in Massachusetts. Not long after, it was popular in South America, Hawaii and many British and Dutch colonies, thus completing the worldwide spread of the watermelon.


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November 28th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

RICHARD & NERI ASK: My wife and I were eating watermelon slices and had an out of the blue question that we thought to research. We were wondering how humans came to know about the watermelon fruit. May sound silly, but how did we even know that watermelons were edible (and extremely delicious)? My wife thinks that we came to know about these refreshing fruits by looking at animals eat it. Is this right?


I like this question, Richard and Neri, because it forces me to travel back into time to imagine what life was like 50,000 years ago — before the automobile, before reality TV and before 4G wireless networks.

This is just my own non-expert guess, but I suppose much of the prehistoric culinary decisions  — much like our modern dining choices — came down to simple trial and error. Here’s how a typical grocery-shopping conversation between two Neanderthal hunter-gatherers might have gone:

CAVEMAN #1: “Unngh! That plant with purple pointed leaves bad!”

CAVEMAN #2: “For sure. Remember what happen when Grog ate it last Thursday? He no feel so good after.”

CAVEMAN #1: “Hmmmm, yes. When he feel better, we make him eat that round green thing with red inside. I call it, water melon.”

CAVEMAN #2: “Good idea. Grog eat anything! But you need to work on name of melon. Something more creative.”

CAVEMAN #1: “Okay. That name will do for now. Hey, you want to go throw rocks at the tiger with big pointy teeth?”

At least that’s how I imagine the discussion went between our prehistoric counterparts. They were smarter than we give them credit for, because they at least relied on brave diners like Grog to test different foods beforehand (even if they also threw rocks at Saber-Toothed Tigers).

We still use the same methods today. Like last week, when I created a triple bacon, triple cheese pizza. It tasted good, but, like Grog, I no feel so good after.


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November 26th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy


Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a former competitive eater. Which is why it should come as no surprise that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the one day of the year during which everyone can put their diets aside and tap into their inner competitive eater.

Of course, a bountiful feast is only one part of the holiday. The other part is the whole “giving thanks” thing. So, in between bites of turkey and stuffing, try to take some time to reflect on what you’re thankful for this year. I’m thankful for my family, for my health and for the chance to write about something I love (watermelon!) here on this blog.

Leave a comment below with what you’re thankful for this year. While you think about it, here are a few strange Thanksgiving facts for you to chat about around the table this year:

– Did you know that Thanksgiving gets partial credit for the invention of the TV dinner? When the folks at Swanson misjudged the number of turkeys they’d sell in 1953 (they were off by 26 TONS), a member of the company’s team came up with the idea to slice up the extra turkey and repackage it with side dishes in easy-to-prepare frozen meals.

– The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. We won’t go into details on this one, and it’s probably best NOT to talk about this fact around the dinner table

– Ben Franklin once led an effort to make the turkey our national bird. According to Franklin, the bald eagle had “bad moral character,” while the turkey was a “much more respectable bird.” (More respectable and more delicious!

– Turkey was actually NOT served at the first Thanksgiving feast…at least not that we know of. Pretty much the only things that we do know were on the menu were venison, corn and fish. They did serve various types of fowl, but turkeys were likely not one of them. Oh, and there was no watermelon at the first Thanksgiving, despite what my edits to the photo above might suggest.

UP NEXT: How did people discover that watermelon was good to eat?

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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.


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.


UP NEXT: Our November prize!

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February 7th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

pic2When I was a kid, I loved watermelon (of course, I still do). It was delicious, it was easy, and it was usually served in the summer, which, any kid will tell you, is the best season of the year. It was like that in the 1980s, and I’m pretty sure kids from the 1960s, 1940s, and even the 1800s felt the same way.

In fact, the vintage photos below are proof that kids from a long time ago loved watermelon. On a related side note: How cool are old photos? They not only LOOK cool (thanks to Instagram, you can make new photos look retro cool, too), but they seem so … real. Like a fuzzy memory or a glimpse into a crystal ball (if crystal balls looked into the past, and not the future).

Thirty years ago – and certainly 50 or 60 years ago – people took fewer pictures because digital cameras and camera phones hadn’t been invented yet. That meant that you took photos with cameras loaded with film, and you only snapped one or two pictures because you didn’t want to waste the film (getting it developed wasn’t cheap!). Sure, that resulted in lots of blurry photos in which someone was blinking or not smiling perfectly, but you know what? That’s life. Cameras back then captured real life. Or, in the case of the photos below, they captured real life with watermelon.

Nowadays, everyone has a 6-megapixel camera/high-definition video recorder in their back pocket, which means you get not two or three photos of the family picnic, but 65 pictures of the picnic, and they’re all online before the watermelon is cut up. Is that a good thing? I’m not so sure.

But enough ranting about technology. It’s making me feel old, and not in a good way like the pictures below.




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