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Red, White and Blue: 1956

South Carolina, 1956. Another entry from Margaret Bourke-White's photoessay on segregation and civil rights in South. Will someone pass the salt? Color transparency from the Life magazine photo archive. View full size.

South Carolina, 1956. Another entry from Margaret Bourke-White's photoessay on segregation and civil rights in South. Will someone pass the salt? Color transparency from the Life magazine photo archive. View full size.

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I am well aware of the many national debates over barbecue. I had no idea that watermelon was so contentious!

Watermelon tastes like summer

Just this week I was telling my daughter that the reason I love watermelon is that it tastes like summer. Very few foods act as much like a time-machine as a cold wedge of watermelon.

Milton, Florida, 1965, dad would split the watermelon into brilliant pink oversized slices and we'd be sent out into the back yard to eat it in the long shadows thrown by the floodlights mounted over the sliding screen door while sitting on the shaky rusted Sears swing set listening to crickets and frogs. Who could spit the seeds the farthest?


I moved from west Tennessee to Mississippi, a distance of about 150 miles. In Tennessee, we ate watermelon with forks. In Mississippi, the people ate watermelon with only a knife. Still don't get that!


Black pepper on cantaloupe is very good, also.

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Black pepper on strawberries. Trust me on this!

Like Family

This site is like being with family. Pass the salt and stand back! Eating watermelon with salt on it has resulted in more insults then pulling out my Macbook in a room full of PC users!

Waste Not, Want More

Some folks consumed not just the sweet red flesh of the watermelon, but made delicious, spicy pickle of the rind. Like my Mom.

Oh yeah salt baby

Always put salt on my watermelon. Don't you know salt brings out the flavor

Salty fruit

My dad and mom always ate salt with their melons and apples too. I learned to eat it that way. I've had it both ways and I prefer salt on melon. It seems to make it sweeter or at least bring out more flavor as salt tends to do. I even put it on apples sometimes. Popcorn and apples seem to go together like bread and butter do and it's because of the saltiness of the popcorn.

These looks like the Diamond watermelons that they grow in Texas. One of the best watermelons I've ever eaten.

By any means necessary

My only requirement for eating watermelon is that you don't get between me and it. I'll eat it cold or warm, salted or not, seeded or seedless.

That said, I prefer it cold, salted, and seeded (only because it tastes better than seedless to me).

OK experts . . .

I was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia. There are many "correct" ways to consume this plentiful Southern source of sweetness and pleasure.

At the height of the season, when melons were 10 for a dollar (mid-1960s), the proper outside method of enjoyment was to crack open a ripe watermelon and eat just the heart, the best part, and fling the rest to the ants, with a rind that still had an inch or so of bright red fruit on it.

You're welcome, happy to put the issue to bed for everybody.

Las Vegas


Apple lovers have been known to sprinkle a little salt on their Sweet Delicious or Galas occasionally. Probably the same sort who would lightly salt a juicy tomato, cantaloupe or watermelon. Salt-of-the-earth types, we are.

My grandfather owned an ice house in Piedmont, Missouri, when I was a kid. So he'd bring home several ice-cold melons on summer nights during our visits. Salt shakers were always nearby. We ate the melons out on the lawn at night with lightning bugs floating all around. That way you could spit out the seeds with abandon. Of course, you'd be reeking of mosquito repellent. Gladly, though.


If this were Alabama or Mississippi, the two refrigerators would be on the front porch.

Eating Watermelon

I'm as Southern as any a y'all. This is not our preferred way to eat watermelon.

You cut the melons is half, lengthwise. Then, you take a tablespoon, not a teaspoon. Next, eat until you no longer can. See all that delicious juice on the newspapers? We wanted that in our tummies. Eat wedges? Don't want it all over your face, hands and clothes.


Seeded watermelon tastes better than seedless. It is quite impossible to find seeded watermelon in where I live, D.C.

Norman Rockwell

I really did think this was a painting at first. The composition and faces etc. are pure Norman Rockwell.

A Meal

This is exactly the way you eat watermelon. Watermelon was a rare treat for a lot of people. You got that thing cold in a creek or icebox. Then you set your table with newspapers. (Everyone had the Newspaper.) Get out a knife for each person, and the condiment of choice was salt. It was very hot in the South and most didn't have a/c. It was just another way to beat the heat and it was great family time also. The newspapers kept the juice from getting all over the place. Because windows and doors were kept open so much, the sweet juice would attract bees and yellowjackets, which you didn't want in the house.

What kind of idiot watermelon etiquette is this?

I'm a Southerner (b. 1951), and never in all my life have I seen watermelon eaten like this at an informal gathering, which this clearly is, as evidenced by the spread newspaper and lack of plates and forks. The sight of these eunuchs picking at watermelon seeds with teensy knives is more annoying to me than I can possibly express. People, listen up! Slice the melon crosswise into wedges, pick up a wedge with one hand, take a bite, and spit out the damned seeds, already!


With the exception of grumbling old Dad, this is a bright, sunny, happy picture! I spent my childhood considering watermelon to be vastly overrated -- a (vastly mistaken) opinion held for almost all of my life, until this summer. For some reason, I've fallen in love with it and cannot get enough of that cold, pink, juicy goodness! The last vestiges of it are just now disappearing from my local Stop & Shop and I'm very, very sad about that.

Southern porch

I love the knob & tube wiring above the door. Makes you wonder how more people didn't get electrocuted back then. This appears to be a back porch that was closed in judging from the exterior siding on the walls and the blue/green ceiling.

[The wiring would most likely be for a telephone or doorbell. - Dave]

Low salt

Never could figure out why people wanted to put salt on a nice sweet, tasty slice of watermelon.

[Because it tastes better that way? I say this as someone who grew up in Suwannee County, Florida, on a farm whose crops included watermelons. - Dave]

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