Curiously, the most interesting response to last week's item about cube-shaped watermelon involved another apparent Triumph of Innovation in the same basic food group: Reader Paul M. wrote in with news of carbonated fruit.
Here's the deal: Galen Kaufman, a neurobiologist employed by the Galveston branch of the University of Texas, has invented the "fizzy box," in which fruits are placed to absorb carbon dioxide. Because the water content of fruit is so high, the process carbonates it. So apparently pears, peaches, and, yes, watermelons, at the end of this process "fizz" in the mouth like a soft drink—or "have ZING!" as Kaufman's Web site puts it. (The site also contains an explicit denial of the charge that this process makes bananas explode.)
Anyway, what Kaufman, founder of FizzyFruit, intends to do, if he can raise the capital, is manufacture his fizzy boxes so that they may be sold for home use. He has enjoyed mild press attention since last year, and his invention was recently mentioned by the Wall Street Journal and the BBC. The Journal piece mentions carbonation experiments with other food products, such as cereal. The BBC mentions exploding bananas. Which, again, are a myth, according to FizzyFruit.
This dispatch feels incomplete without some comment on the real FizzyFruit taste experience, but I have no firsthand data. If you've tried the stuff, let me know. And if you have other Triumph of Innovation suggestions, e-mail me at the address below.
Finally, another word on last week's entry. Several readers pointed out, with varying degrees of civility, that I failed to credit one of the most potent distributors of cultural information in the American media: Let the record show that The Simpsons mocked cube-shaped watermelons in an episode a few seasons ago. Perhaps Homer and company were ahead of the curve on fizzy fruit as well? I'm sure someone will let me know.