Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The $83 Watermelon

I’m the first person to get behind the idea of custom food. Once I’d stopped hyperventilating at the very notion of key lime pie gelato, it’s become my all time favorite summertime treat….for this summer, anyway.

So, it’s not such a stretch to imagine that someone...say, the Japanese...would come up with a unique take on growing food. Enter their perspective on growing a watermelon:


These pictures were originally sent to me by food-savvy expert Jackie and I’d immediately dubbed them GENIUS. Evidently, they’re the perfect size to fit in the average Japanese fridge. Imagine! No more watermelons rolling around in the trunk of your car, or inadvertently running over that baggie containing the half-eaten sandwich you brought home and threw in the fridge from lunch at the diner. It’s truly an idea whose time has come.

Right?

Except.

Each watermelon is being sold for $83. Yes, that’s correct. Evidently, this is pricey even by Japanese standards…where they pay an average of $15-$25 for the old, outdated round-kind. It seems to me that those plastic boxes are mighty expensive planting boxes. I’m starting to have a greater appreciation for my local Shop Rite…currently offering an average whole watermelon for around $7.00.

And yet, someone's obviously buying these babies. From what I've read, they taste exactly the same...so, your only inclination for buying one (besides a desire to plunk down an additional 60 bucks) is to leave you with more room in the fridge...for other food? Maybe you've got a hankering for some Durian:

Known in Asia as "The King of Fruit" (and also subsequently banned from public places such as hotels, subways and malls), for "having a succulent, creamy filling but smelling like stinky socks"...but, don't let that dissuade you from trying it.

It does seem like the Japanese (even with their obvious space-issues in the area of trying to grow things) seem to have a propensity for creating the unusual. Earlier this year, the following article appeared in Newsday:

Black Japanese watermelon sold at record price
By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA Associated Press Writer
10:48 AM EDT, June 6, 2008
TOKYO - A jumbo black watermelon auctioned in Japan on Friday fetched a record $6,100, making it one of the most expensive watermelons ever sold in the country.


In a society where melons are a luxury item commonly given as gifts, the watermelon's hefty price tag followed another jaw-dropping auction last month, when a pair of "Yubari" cantaloupe melons sold for a record $23,500.

The 17-pound, black-skinned "Densuke" watermelon, a variety grown only on the northern island of Hokkaido, was purchased Friday by a marine products dealer who said he wanted to support local agriculture, according to Kyodo News agency.The price was the highest on record for a Densuke watermelon, said Kazuyoshi Ohira, a spokesman for the Tohma Agricultural Cooperative in Hokkaido. Most retail at department stores and supermarkets for a more modest $188 to $283, Ohira said.

And what makes a watermelon worth $200, much less $6,000? Ohira says it's the unusual black skin and unparalleled taste. "It's a watermelon, but it's not the same," he said.

(Uh....YEAH....it's not the same....it's a SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR WATERMELON!) Suddenly, paying $83 for a square one doesn't sound so outrageous...right?

Uh huh. All I know is that if this baby ever went bad in my fridge, I think I’d have to kill myself.

Anonymous said...

Square watermelons? That's hilarious!! I might try this with my pumpkins!

jh said...

That's the best! We should do this & sell it, but on a much smaller scale, like square key limes.

Kathryn said...

Ha! Square key limes! Altho, it may not be cost effective to have to buy all those little plastic boxes to hang from the trees... We'll just take over Sue's greenhouse and start w/pumpkins.

Ellipsis said...

And could you imagine living on some farm and grabbing it off the ground whenever you please?
Still....I prefer my city views...

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