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Mark Twain once said, “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what angels eat.”
As big watermelon eaters ourselves, we take that comment as a compliment – thanks, Mark!
And luckily for us angels and everyone else, there are plenty of types of watermelon to go around, each one bursting with its own heavenly flavor.
Mountains of Melons
Watermelons are typically considered a summertime fruit – with no picnic or barbecue scene complete without them.
So it’s only natural that the fruits themselves are sun worshipers, flourishing under what many others would consider a punishing heat.
In fact, watermelons were first widely cultivated in the deserts of Northern Africa, long standing as a mainstay crop along the Nile and even showing up in the tomb of King Tut himself.
From there, they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with the Moors and were eventually adopted by European sailors, too, making their way across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World on the ships of the Exploration Age.
And with each move, it seemed so many new types of watermelon were born, as farmers in every new location clamored to grow their own version of the natural treat. That’s resulted today in more than 1,000 different types of watermelon cultivars, which are generally organized into several broad categories, including:
The original recipe, this is how watermelons first came into the world – and how some argue they still taste best.
Seeded watermelon varieties come, of course, packed with dozens of those iconic black seeds that pop against the bright pink-red insides of these famous fruits, and while most diners spit out these unwanted aspects of the plants, many farmers prize them for helping the species live on – and even evolve over time.
We’re not sure what was up with the people in charge of naming these types of watermelons, but we can only guess they felt there was something cosmic about the fruits, with the most famous examples baring labels like:
- Estrella – Spanish for “star,” this varietal lives up to its name as one of the most popular types of watermelons out there, with a picture perfect thick green rind, uniform oval shape and especially sweet and dark red inside studded with classic black pips.
- Moon and Stars – First developed in the throes of the Great Depression, this type of watermelon is extra-packed with seeds – though we figure people back then were thanking their lucky moon and stars for having any type of fruit at all. The seedless watermelon revolution nearly put this varietal out to pasture, but it made a surprising supermarket comeback in the 1980s.
An old wives’ tale warns that anyone who eats a watermelon seed risks having one of the monstrous fruits grow in their stomach.
We’re not sure if that put the scare into the Japanese scientists who developed these seedless wonders back in the late 1930s, but it would’ve worked for us!
Seedless watermelons aren’t technically seedless – they actually contain a multitude of seeds, though they’re small, underdeveloped and easily eaten and digested by humans. Still, the improved eating experience consistently makes these some of the most popular types of watermelons, with the more famous cultivars including:
- King of Hearts – Weighing in at up to 18 pounds and sporting particularly sweet pink flesh, this sweetheart truly lives up to its nickname, providing us mere peasants with deliciousness worthy of a royal feast.
- Millionaire – A king for the modern age, these watermelons are as rich as their nickname, with a particularly juicy inside that tastes so good, you’ll be happy you won’t have to spit out any seeds.
Orange & Yellow Watermelons
This is the stuff we at FruitStand really love to see.
Yellow and orange watermelons are truly the aesthetic stand-outs of the watermelon world – if not a little weird. But we love them for showing their true colors.
Inside a yellow or orange watermelon is – you guessed it! – a vibrant yellow or orange flesh, with their black seeds popping out even more against the highlighter hues.
These varietals were important life sources in the Kalahari Desert, where they originated, though today they’re mostly enjoyed for their cool color scheme and particularly sweet insides, including the cultivars:
- Yellow Baby – One of the world’s smallest types of watermelons, these tiny wonders are bright yellow inside – and arguably the sweetest-tasting watermelon of all. But Yellow Babies don’t last long on the shelf, typically surviving less than a week after being plucked off the vine, making these an especially rare delicacy.
- Sorbet Swirl – Meanwhile, on the orange side of things, this type of watermelon bears an especially apropos moniker, rocking the creamy color of orange sorbet and, indeed, a distinctive swirly pattern in its flesh.
Not named for the cooler responsible for carrying them to all these picnics, per se, but rather for their distinctive size, these types of watermelons are some of the smallest of all, ranging anywhere from 15 to just 5 pounds.
But their miniature status doesn’t make them short on taste, with icebox watermelons packing just as much sweet flavor and refreshing goodness as their bigger relatives.
Some of the most popular types of these watermelons include:
- Tiger Baby – Named for the distinctive stripes on their rinds – which alter between light grey and darker green – these are some of the sweetest types of watermelons out there. Though at only 7 or 8 pounds, on average, they’re just slightly smaller than their large cat namesake.
- Sugar Baby – Not just a corny nickname to call your significant other! These popular types of watermelons are small and compact, rocking a dark green rind and deep red skin that skews a bit on the tangy side, despite their saccharine nickname.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the size spectrum, these types of watermelons are known for their heft, weighing in, on average, anywhere from 20 to 45 pounds.
They get their name from their ability to feed an entire picnic of people, surely filling up more than one ice box’s worth of watermelon along the way.
Some of the most bountiful cultivars include:
msngBlack Diamond – A watermelon so large, you could practically ski down it, these varietals regularly clock in around 50 pounds. Still, much of that is attributed to their tough, hard rines, though those persistent enough to chisel through that will be sweetly rewarded with a delicious, sweet bite inside.
- Charleston Grey – The best soap opera character that never existed – or the most popular type of picnic watermelon? These oversized berries actually get their name from the color of their rinds, but they’re particularly well-liked with botanists for their resistance to many common diseases and their ability to grow up to 40 pounds worth of sweet flesh and rind.
Sounds like more of a watermelon feast to us. But whatever type of watermelon eat-a-thon this is: Sign us up!