Explore Watermelon''s Fascinating 5,000 Year History
Our CBD drinks only use the finest ingredients. And watermelon sure is a fine ingredient!
You may know it today for its popularity in the health and fitness world, its love of growing in the summer, or as the perfect snack in the sun. It’s often associated with barbecues and going to the beach.
But we bet you don’t know how amazing the history of the watermelon is! From being discovered as a source of hydration to being bred to perfection, watermelons have an incredible past- and present.
Buckle up! Let’s travel through history and see what the watermelon has been through. From finding its ancestors to gaining its distinct red color, there’s a lot to learn!
Scientists are in consensus that the original watermelon was an African cultivar that later spread to the Mediterranean and Europe.
But that’s the only thing folks agree on. What part of Africa did the watermelon originally grow in?
Taxonomists all the way back to the 18th century did a horrible job classifying melons, so that doesn’t help the situation at all.
Bizarrely, even the name for the watermelon as we know it is wrong. It’s Citrullus lanatus, but lanatus translates to “hairy”.
The citron melon grows in the southern parts of Africa and is a potential ancestor of the watermelon. But there’s evidence of Egyptians growing watermelon about 4,000 years ago, long before southern Africa started farming.
Another contestant is the egusi melon, which originated in western Africa. But Egusis were cultivated for their seeds, not their flesh. So that theory doesn’t hold up very well, because people like watermelon flesh and not seeds.
The most likely ancestor is native to northeast Africa, called citrullus lanatus var. colocynthoides.
Watermelons have been around for a really, really long time. Watermelon seeds were found by archaeologists at a Libyan settlement- from 5,000 years ago!
In addition, paintings of watermelons have been found in tombs in Egypt built over 4,000 years ago. Most notably, in King Tut’s tomb!
One painting in the tomb is especially important. The watermelon shown isn’t round like its wild relative. Instead, it’s oblong, indicating that it was being bred and cultivated.
You may wonder why Egyptians wanted to cultivate wild watermelons because the wild varieties didn’t taste good and they were hard. The answer is simple: hydration!
Different from other fruit, watermelons had the ability to stay edible for months on end if they were kept somewhere shaded and cooled.
There's a theory that the reason watermelons were placed inside tombs is because they were meant to serve as a water source for the pharaoh’s long journey into the afterlife.
Once watermelons started being cultivated, it's likely that the first thing they tried to change was to make them taste better. Only one gene determined its bitter flavor, so it shouldn't have been too hard to breed out.
Once the taste was improved, other things started being targeted. Another trait to change was how hard the watermelons were. Because they were being served ready-to-eat, the flesh had to be softer.
Although the Egyptian watermelon wasn’t bitter or hard anymore, it still wasn’t the fruit that we know and love. It wasn’t ready to be in a sparkling CBD soda, that’s for sure!
It seems that the watermelon traveled from northeast Africa to the Mediterranean between 400 BC and 500 AD. Its spread was probably expedited by the fact that it was a great way to stay hydrated while on ships.
The ancient Greeks used watermelons as a healing remedy. They used it as a diuretic and to treat heatstroke.
You can tell that watermelons were sweet by roughly 200 AD. This is because they were mentioned along with pomegranates, grapes, and figs in a text. The only thing these fruits have in common is that they’re sweet! Just like our watermelon CBD drink.
Descriptions of watermelons from around that period describe yellow insides for watermelons. There’s an Israeli mosaic from about 425 CE depicting a watermelon with orange-yellow flesh.
In years to come, watermelons develop their red hues. This is because the gene that determines the red color is the same gene that decides how sweet the watermelon is. So when the fruit was bred to get sweeter, the inside got redder and redder.
The very first colored sketch of a red watermelon found in Europe is from the 14th century in a healthy living guide. It’s a medieval manuscript called Tacuinum Sanitatis. Italian nobles commissioned copies of the book with lavish illustrations.
Tacuinum Sanitatis is incredibly thorough. Lots of the illustrations show the familiar long, stripy green watermelon being sold and harvested. Some are opened up to show the red inside. One illustration shows a happy farmer drinking from the watermelon.
Thanks to all of this work, our watermelon CBD drink has a gorgeous red hue.
Watermelons have had a wild journey. And now they’re in our CBD sparkling soda! We couldn’t have done it without the Egyptians, the voyagers, and everyone who worked to make watermelon the sweet treat we know and love.
Next time you pick up our watermelon sparkling CBD soda you’ll have a new appreciation for the flavor. Anytime you see a watermelon, really!
We’re honored to be part of the continued legacy of this incredible fruit.