There are a lot of pop-culture catchphrases, references, or sound effects that persist today even though their origins are completely irrelevant or even unknown to today’s youth. The most common one that’s thrown around is the needle-scratch sound effect used in movie trailers: everyone recognizes it as a “what the…!” signifier, even though those darned kids today have never owned a record player. But even though it's been nearly 20 years since vinyl has fallen out of favor, there has still been no other sound that has arisen to take its place that makes a better transition from a stuffy voiceover describing a rich guy named Chauncey and his life at his exclusive club to the surprise introduction of his hiphopping black lost son/fast-talking con man who blackmails him to let him into the club/Larry the Cable Guy. (This needle scratch also inevitably marks the connector between posh classical music and James Brown's "I Feel Good.")
That particular reference gets a lot of play, and there are many others. But I’ve noticed another long-running staple of society that no longer makes sense, but continues to hang around.
Friendly’s Wattamelon Roll.
Watermelon-flavored sherbet in the middle, lemon sherbet for the rind: this cool summer treat is the spitting image of the watermelon. Only when it hits your mouth, and instead of crunchy juicy melon your teeth are met with the shocking – yet refreshing! – tang of sherbet, only then do you realize that Friendly’s has slipped you the tastiest mickey ever!
But wait, look closer. Little chocolate chips peppered inside, pretending to be seeds. It's the icing on the cake, were this cake and not ice cream. The charade is complete! Even a watermelon could not tell the difference! Except for one thing…
THANKS TO SCIENCE, YOU CAN RARELY FIND A SEEDED WATERMELON ANYMORE. Kids reared in a seedless society will have no idea what those little black things are. Imagine if you’d never seen a seeded watermelon before, and then someone handed you a Wattamelon roll: a dead ringer for your favorite fruit except for the fact that someone has apparently thrown some rocks into it. What if someone handed you, say, a banana – or even a banana doppelganger made out of ice cream – and it had black hunks in it? You would not find this appetizing. In fact, let’s reverse this: What if Friendly’s invented the cupless Fribble, and then in ten years some farmer came up with a fruit that was a flawless lookalike except for a peel that looked just like a cup? That farmer would be laughed out of the farmer’s market, that’s what would happen.
And yet the seeded Wattamelon Roll rolls on.
Perhaps watermelon seeds are too iconic to ever fade. But if they’re going to remain a symbol, then today’s kids should have to deal with them, too. It’s only fair. Why should they get all of the icon with none of the hard work necessary in eating delicious fruit studded with obstacles? It’s not even like it’s all chore: an integral part of childhood is spitting seeds at a friend. It’s just not a picnic until you see someone unknowingly walking around with a couple of seeds stuck to the back of his hair.
I think it’s time for Friendly’s to catch up with the times. It’s easy enough: just switch out the chocolate chips for smaller white-chocolate slivers. Bingo: fruitally accurate, and just as tasty.
Stay tuned for my next post, when I muse for 2000 words on why the Shamrock Shake is racist.
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