It’s the Great Watermelon Charlie Brown

By Robert Burgess
Tower Hill staff

In Italy, Linus and Sally aren’t waiting for a mystical Great Pumpkin to rise from the sincerest patch around bringing joy and presents to little children. In Italy, the Peanuts characters in the story are hoping to catch a glimpse of, wait for it, the Great Watermelon.

The story goes, when the tale was first released onto the small screen in 1966, Italians weren’t familiar with Halloween and its traditions. So while working on the translation, they decided to go with a piece of produce that households would recognize and find particularly humorous. Cue the watermelon references.

One blogger visiting the Comics Museum in Milan explained that it wasn’t a case of missed translation. Il Grande Cocomero was selected quite on purpose, as translators threw shade on the alternative/correct La Grande Zucca. Something about the masculine form of the word Cocomero would tickle Italian viewers, they thought.

Of course recent visitors to Tower Hill Botanic Garden got a kick out of a locally grown Great Watermelon, a 70-pound beast, as part of the nonprofit organization’s October Oddities exhibit. The Carolina Cross, a cultivar of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), can grow more than 200 pounds. Tower Hill’s exhibit entry was chosen best in show by former Victory Garden host Roger Swain.

Imagining Linus waiting for that massive watermelon on Halloween night is indeed pretty funny. Maybe the Italians are onto something.

Robert Burgess is public relations manager at Tower Hill.