Some facts from a N.Y. Times primer on the watermelon:
Watermelons were being harvested 5,000 years ago in Egypt and can be seen in hieroglyphics. They were placed in burial tombs to nourish the dead in the afterlife.
In the 10th century, this fruit spread to China and all of Asia. The Moors were taking the watermelon, along with tiles and algebra, through Europe in the 13th century. It was in Central America by 1516. The American colonies were growing watermelons from seeds in the early 1600's.
The watermelon was always an important fruit because it traveled well in its own oblong or round ''container,'' and it would keep for weeks.