Monday, June 24, 2019

Watermelon street sellers in Philadelphia

The 1850 City Cries book of Philadelphia contained this image and description below.  By this time great amounts were raised in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey and watermelons sold for 1/4 less than 20 years before.  The new type, called Spanish Watermelon was the most popular.

Watermelons were available in the Washington City Vegetable Market (as listed by Thomas Jefferson from 1801-1809 more HERE)
from July 7 until Sept 4. More posts on watermelons including in Italy 1810 and Cincinnati 1830 HERE

Watermelons and Cantelopes abound in our market in the season. They are raised in great quantities in the states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.  A sandy soil is the best adapted to the culture of melons; and hence many prefer those brought from New Jersey, and from the eastern shore of Virginia.

Whole cart-loads are traversing the streets at all hours of the day, and "Ripe Watermelons! Fine ripe Watermelons!" is every where the cry. This fruit has, of late years, greatly increased in quantity, and improved in quality. The culture of watermelons has recently increased to so great an extent in our neighbourhood, that they are now sold for one quarter of the price which they bore some fifteen or twenty years ago.

Some few seasons since a new kind was introduced into the country, called the Spanish Watermelon, which is esteemed above all other kinds. It is of a very dark green colour; the rind is unusually thin; and the pulp very rich, crisp and juicy, melting upon the tongue like an ice-cream. Commend us to a fine Spanish watermelon on a hot afternoon. It is a feast of the richest kind.

This excellent fruit is raised in great perfection not only in all parts of the United States, but also in the West Indies, Mexico, and South America. In Europe it is also cultivated, and in Asia and Africa it is esteemed, next to the date, the most delicious of all fruits. Indeed the Persians pay more attention to its culture, and consider it of more importance, than even the date. Their writers speak of it with such rapture that we half suspect they have a kind of watermelon superior even to the Spanish.

City Cries [of Philadelphia]… designs by Croome.  Phila: 1850

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

No comments:

Post a Comment