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Internet discovers state vegetable of Oklahoma is the watermelon, a fruit

Leigh McManus May 25, 2021
state vegetable of oklahoma
Photo by Kazi Salahuddin Razu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The internet has just re-discovered that the state vegetable of Oklahoma is the watermelon, a fruit, and people are flocking to Twitter and Reddit to share their confusion.

Why is the watermelon state vegetable of Oklahoma?

What first appeared to be a fairly innocuous tweet has sent social media into a frenzy. “Oklahoma’s official state vegetable is the watermelon. Watermelons are fruits,” read the viral message that inspired a minor Twitter and Reddit meltdown.

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So, why is the watermelon state vegetable of Oklahoma? Well, back in 2007 the fruit was actually officially declared a vegetable in the state that straddles the northern boundary of Texas.

A bill on the proposal was passed by 78 votes to 19. A triumphant senator Don Barrington, who sponsored the bill, said after the vote: “The controversy on whether watermelon is a fruit or vegetable has been officially decided by the Oklahoma legislature.”

He told Oklahoma’s Lawton constitution before the vote that the watermelon was a fruit, “but it’s also a vegetable because it’s a member of the cucumber family”.

Is watermelon a fruit or vegetable? Does Oklahoma have a state fruit?

According to the aforementioned Don Barrington, the watermelon is a fruit and a vegetable, but what does science say? Watermelon.org states that, like the pepper, tomato, and pumpkin, watermelon is a fruit, botanically.

However Mr Barrington’s claims do have some standing because of the fact that the watermelon is part of the cucurbitaceae plant family of gourds.

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This means that it’s related to the cucumber, squash and pumpkin, as he rightly pointed out in the Oklahoma State Capitol in 2007.

Because it is planted from seeds or seedlings, harvested, and then cleared from the field like other vegetables, it is like a vegetable according to production systems.

“Since watermelon is grown as a vegetable crop using vegetable production systems, watermelon is considered a vegetable,” said Wolford in 2004.

Does Oklahoma have a state fruit? Yes, the same 2007 bill that meant the watermelon was a vegetable, and the state’s official vegetable, also saw the strawberry awarded the honour of becoming Oklahoma’s state fruit.

Twitter and Redditors react to news that the watermelon is state vegetable of Oklahoma

This has been a recurring theme since 2007. People stumble upon the news that Oklahoma made the decision to make the watermelon their poster boy of vegetables, and they react in kind.

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Joe Dorman, an Oklahoma politician who represented Rush Springs – home to the state’s annual watermelon festival – wrote the watermelon bill to “generate buzz,” according to WSJ.

And create a buzz it did. States have been selecting official flora and fauna since at least 1893, when each state designated an official flower for an exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, according to Kae Warnock of the National Conference of State Legislatures, via WSJ.

While Twitter users and Redditors may think the designation of the watermelon as a vegetable is ludicrous, some experts disagree.

“There is no black and white in biology. It’s all dingy grey,” said Dr. Lynn Brandenberger, a horticulturist at Oklahoma State University.

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Leigh is a 26-year-old journalist from the north of Ireland. He studied International Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, where he earned a 2:1 grade. He has worked for Mail Online and has experience with the Liverpool Echo, Irish Mirror and SWNS. Leigh is also a huge music fan and has his own show on a community radio station.