Amongst the fun foods in the food pyramid is one of my favorites: watermelon. What’s that? No, there is no major food group in the layers of the food pyramid called “fun foods.” You have to trek over to the south side of the pyramid and find a concealed entrance, go through a dark tunnel, down a steep set of stairs and if you’re attentive you’ll come across the small Secret Chamber of Fun Foods.

At one time, this was classified government information that only people working on the food pyramid knew about but the secret was compromised when Ding Dongs and whoopie pies started appearing in their children’s lunch boxes. Okay, the fun food chamber is adjacent to the Junk Food Hall and Lounge so there may have been some crossover.

And speaking of pyramids, the ancient Egyptians had watermelon as is evidenced by archaeological findings in the form of watermelon seeds dating back 5,000 years in northeastern Africa. How those seeds were dated was a mystery to me but I recently discovered some old seed packets in my own garage and right there on the back it said “Packaged for 2008 growing season.” With a little knowledge of how the calendar has changed over the last few thousand years it would be easy to date seeds that were “Packaged for 3,000 BC growing season.”

But don’t imagine images of pharaohs sitting on thrones eating melon pieces from a chilled fruit cup. Watermelon at the time was nasty. It was likely a smallish, spherical fruit with a tough textured exterior and a light green to yellow, bitter or bland tasting flesh, fit only for its main use: animal fodder. However, being so loaded with water, it made for a convenient natural canteen, quite useful in the north African deserts if not in their desserts.

Of course, the pharaohs needed a few for their trip into the afterlife in case they got thirsty and in their tombs paintings of watermelons have been found although for some reason these have not commanded the attention and close study the paintings of nubile Egyptian girls have.

With domestication came selective breeding and by the year 200, sweet watermelons emerged in Israel and perhaps Greece. In another thousand years, sweet, red-fleshed watermelons could be found in Italy and today in supermarkets world over.

Florida, California and Georgia are the top three watermelon producing states in the U.S., which contribute to the total U.S. production of almost two million tons. That is a boatload of watermelon but the U.S. ranks only 7th in worldwide production, with China topping the charts with 79 million tons. If you do the math that would be 39½ “boatloads.”

One of the reasons people like watermelon a lot is because of its very high content of lycopene, which is obviously where the word “like” originated. The National Watermelon Promotion Board touts the fact that it contains lycopene but since it’s not considered an essential nutrient for the human diet, they stop short of telling you just what you can do with all that lycopene. Other sources are not so shy and explain that lycopene is an antioxidant, for what that’s worth. Anyway, it’s what makes the flesh of the melon so red. Tomatoes also contain lycopene. People like them too but they don’t qualify as a fun food unless you stumble upon a twenty-pound tomato.

Among the 7 essential nutrients for the human body, watermelon has it covered. The first essential nutrient is water so no problem there. But the big melon is not shy on vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates either, although it does not offer a whole lot of fat.

Watermelons, it has been reported, may also provide some protection from the sun. This is especially true if you park yourself in the shade behind the 350-pound world’s largest watermelon grown by Christopher Kent of Tennessee. But that was in 2013 and in recent years the biggest melons have weighed in at 200 to 250 pounds, which, naturally, do not provide as much protection.

Sure, there are a few drawbacks to watermelons but except for an occasional inner-groin hernia from lifting them, I can’t think of anything negative on this hot and oppressive, sweltering summer day.

How could you even doubt, this being America, that we do not have a National Watermelon Day? It’s always August 3rd which, as you know, is the day after National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. But that’s another story.