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.
- 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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