Mention watermelon and people immediately think of sweet, juicy, crimson-colored fruit. But watermelons didn't start that way, notes Angela R. Davis of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service. Wild watermelons in their native Africa are white fleshed, the size of softballs, and "hard like softballs," she notes. Bitter and anything but sweet, watermelons hardly started as dessert.
On the other hand, U.S. domesticated watermelons are so sweet that they tend to be off-limits to most of the nation's 20 million people with diabetes. People adhering to low-carb diets also shun the fruit. So, Davis, a melon geneticist and enthusiast, embarked on developing a low-sugar alternative to the standard U.S. supermarket melon. She started by screening a host of noncommercial melons, including many that retained some of their wild traits.