Happy Watermelon Day! 16 Sweet, Juicy Facts You Didn’t Know
Frida Kahlo painted them and poets have celebrated them. In his “Ode to the Watermelon,” Pablo Neruda described it as “a fruit from the thirst-tree” and “the green whale of the summer.” He wrote: “its hemispheres open/showing a flag/green, white, red,/ that dissolves into/wild rivers, sugar, delight!” Abundant in summer, watermelons are by their very nature sweet and heavy, plus they’re full of vitamins: A, B6, and C. Aug. 3 is National Watermelon Day. We celebrate it here with 16 fun facts.
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- Watermelons are 92 percent water.
- The word “watermelon” first appeared in English dictionaries in 1615, according to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink.
- Watermelons are related to pumpkins, as well as cucumbers and squash.
- The world’s largest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005 and weighed 268.8 pounds, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Watermelons originated in southern Africa.
- They appear in Egyptian hieroglyphics nearly 5,000 years ago. Watermelon seeds were found in the tomb of King Tut.
- Early explorers carried watermelons on long trips as a source of water, like canteens.
- Watermelons are both fruits and vegetables.
- China is the largest producer of watermelons in the world today, followed by Turkey and Iran.
- The U.S. currently ranks fifth in watermelon production worldwide. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the states that grow the most watermelon.
- On April 17, 2007, the Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill declaring watermelon as the official state vegetable.
- Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown in 100 countries across the world.
- Watermelons were introduced to the New World by European colonists and African slaves. Spanish settlers started growing watermelon in Florida in 1576.
- One cup of watermelon has more lycopene, a pigment with antioxidant effects, than a large fresh tomato.
- You can eat the seeds. And the rind. Here’s a recipe for pickled watermelon rind.
- Are your muscles feeling sore? Have some watermelon before your next workout. The juice contains L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, an amino acid that helps relax blood vessels and improves circulation.
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