Happy National Watermelon Day! Americans consumed 4.7 billion pounds* of watermelon last year so I guess it warrants its own holiday!

If I asked you to close your eyes and picture a piece of my very favorite fruit, I’ll bet you would envision something close to this:

It’s the quintessential icon of summer: a slice cut in a triangle and full of black seeds. In fact, if you look at almost any graphic depiction of watermelon, it looks this way too.

But black-seeded watermelon is becoming a rarity. In 2012, just 27% of imported watermelons had black seeds. I’m sure that it is less today as they become increasingly difficult to locate in stores. 

Even though the marketers have positioned the choice as between seeded and seedless, it is an incorrect distinction. Seedless watermelons actually have seeds, they are just white. (I wonder what would have been the fate of “seeded” melons if the choice had been presented as original black seeds or hard-to-locate white seeds?!)

Yet, even if the white seeds are more popular with consumers, they don’t carry nearly as powerful of graphic punch as the black, so I suspect the traditional look will live on. You can add black-seeded watermelon to the list of throwback icons that still have their place, like an envelope for email (or a stamp on Macs), an analog clock on the iPhone, a landline phone receiver for the phone app, and film-based camera for photos. These symbols have become synonymous with the item they represent, even though the more technologically advanced item no longer resembles the graphic depicting it.

Regardless of the color of your seeds, take moment to celebrate National Watermelon Day today with a slice of summer. And if you’re lucky enough to find a melon with black seeds, enjoy a seed-spitting contest while you still can.

beth triplett

*Source: The Simple List, Real Simple, August 2016, p. 4

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