A Juicy Fruit?
Although many people class the watermelon as a fruit, it's technically a vegetable, falling somewhere between a cucumber and a gourd. A tasty treat straight out of the fridge, it's actually native to much warmer climates than ours, having grown in India as far back as prehistoric times, and being recorded in Egyptian fields, 5,000 years ago.
But of course, there were always those pesky seeds, even if they were great fun for the kids to spit at each other. So in 1939, researchers experimented with treating the flowering watermelon with an acid, and ended up with a plant that bore fruit, but a fruit with no seed.
Cordele, Georgia lays claim to the title of Watermelon Capitol of the World. The juicy crop brings in $27 million dollars a year, much of it through the local farmers market which sells around 200 million pounds. Richard LeFevre would feel right at home, there. He holds the world record for eating watermelon, having consumed 11 1/2 pounds in 15 minutes.
However, he wouldn't be likely to buy his melon meals in China, where farmers have forced the fruity vegetable to conform to the limited space of their refrigerators. By placing the young fruit in a tempered glass box, they have succeeded in growing square watermelons that fit onto the shelves. But the price would make you spit. They go for around 10,000 yen, or the equivalent of $82US.