While most people know that watermelon is the quintessential fruit of summer, very few realize how many different types of watermelon there are. Within those types, there are dozens of different watermelon varieties.
If you’re looking for a delicious, medium-sized watermelon to enjoy with the family, you should consider an icebox watermelon. If you’re not sure which type of icebox melon is right for you, we have seven of the best varieties listed below!
What Exactly is an Icebox Watermelon?
While many different watermelons fall into the icebox variety, they all have one thing in common – their size. Icebox watermelons were named because they’re smaller than heirloom varieties but not as small as miniature ones.
They were so-named because of their ability to fit into iceboxes and smaller coolers for lunches and picnics. While it certainly didn’t take a genius to name the icebox variety, the sheer number of icebox watermelon options on the open market is nothing short of brilliant.
History of the Icebox Watermelon
Icebox watermelons have a surprisingly long and storied history. Our earliest record of these delicious fruits comes from Africa and India, particularly Egypt and the Kalahari Desert.
While early settlers and Native Americans first planted watermelons in North America in the 1600s, icebox watermelons weren’t developed until the mid-1900s.
Icebox watermelon first hit the market because people were looking for a smaller melon they could travel with. Picnics and gatherings were, and still are, extremely popular during the summer, but people hated hauling thirty to forty-pound watermelon around.
Hence, the icebox watermelon was discovered in 1955 by a mystery man named M. Harden. He discovered the melon by accident growing in his Oklahoma field, and nobody realized its potential market value.
The icebox watermelon didn’t become popular until the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Defining Features and Characteristics of Icebox Watermelon
Their Size and Shape
The most distinct feature of all icebox watermelons is their size. Icebox melons are typically between five and fifteen pounds, most weighing eight to ten pounds.
Icebox melons are also rounder and less oval than their larger, heirloom counterparts.
Color and Flesh
Originally, icebox watermelons were like most other melon varieties: they were green on the outside with red flesh and seeds on the inside. While that still holds for most varieties, some icebox melons have a dark green or blackish shell, while others have yellow or orange flesh.
There are also seedless and hybrid varieties available.
Like all watermelons, icebox melons have many health benefits and qualities. They’re a sweet, low-calorie treat and contain certain vitamins and minerals.
10 of the Best Icebox Watermelon Varieties on the market
Now that you know a little more about the icebox watermelon, let’s look at seven of the best and most popular varieties.
In terms of overall popularity, the sugar baby watermelon is the most popular icebox watermelon. It was also the original icebox melon discovered in Oklahoma in 1955.
The Sugar Baby typically grows between six inches and one foot long and has a round shape. It usually weighs around eight to ten pounds, making it the poster child for what all icebox melons should look like.
These watermelons tend to have a darker outer shell and ruby-red flesh inside. They’re known for their sweet taste and crunchy texture and for being the perfect summer watermelon.
Bush Sugar Babies are also a popular variety because they’re very easy to grow, even for beginners.
Learn even more by reading our blog post on the Sugar Bush Baby Watermelon.
If you’re looking for another award-winning icebox watermelon, you should definitely try Sweet Beauty. It’s won several watermelon and fruit awards and is beloved for its sweet taste and crunchy texture.
Its most notable award came in 2004 when it was an All-American Selections winner.
Unlike Sugar Baby, Sweet Beauty is usually five to seven pounds heavy and has an oval or oblong shape rather than round. It also tends to be ready for harvest one to two weeks sooner than other icebox varieties.
For more in-depth information, read our Sweet Beauty Watermelon blog post.
Triple Play Seedless
The Triple Play Seedless melon is one of the more recent icebox varieties to hit the market. It gets its name because it’s a triploid hybrid watermelon, which means it’s seedless and sterile.
The Triple Play Seedless is usually between seven and ten pounds heavy and has an almost perfectly round shape. Like most watermelons, it has a green, striped shell and delicious red flesh on the inside.
The Yellow Doll watermelon is one of the most unique icebox watermelons available. Unlike traditional melons, Yellow Doll has yellow flesh and looks more like mango or guava on the inside than a watermelon.
It’s described as having a deliciously sweet taste that’s crunchy and candy-like. While Yellow Doll isn’t a seedless variety, it has few seeds, making it great for pollination and eating.
In addition to having a delicious taste, Yellow Doll is perfect for home and pot-growing because it’s compact and weighs five to seven pounds. It’s also one of the fastest-maturing watermelons on the market, reaching maturity in as few as seventy days.
We’ll end our list of best icebox watermelon varieties with the biggest option on our list – the Shiny Boy. Unlike most icebox varieties, Shiny Boy can grow up to fifteen pounds heavy and be slightly oval in shape.
However, like most icebox watermelons, Shiny Boy matures in seventy to eighty days and is one of the sweetest melons you’ll ever taste. It’s an AAS winner, like Sweet Beauty, and is described as having a crunchy, tropical flavor.
It’s one of the few melons you can smell the instant you cut it open. It has traditional red flesh and seeds inside and a green, striped shell on the outside.
Early Crimson Treat
This watermelon, also simply known as Crimson Treat, is another icebox variety melon that’s growing in popularity. Like all icebox varieties, Crimson Treat is small and round and usually weighs less than ten pounds.
It gets its name because it’s one of the fastest-maturing watermelon varieties available, and can reach maturity in as little as seventy days. It’s very similar to its older brother, Crimson Sweet, except that it’s smaller and is of the icebox variety.
Crimson Treat has light green skin with dark green stripes running through it vertically. The flesh it produces is described as impeccably crisp and sweet and could potentially knock your socks off!
Other Icebox Watermelon Varieties to Mention
The following are a few of the more obscure kinds of icebox watermelons, but once you read about them, it’ll be worth it to put them on your bucket list!
As the name indicates, the Navajo Sweet watermelon is a deliciously sweet icebox variety from the southwestern United States. It’s most popularly grown in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona and is considered one of the best melons in those areas.
While Navajo Sweet watermelons are one of the sweetest varieties available, there’s a trick to maximizing their taste. It’s important to harvest the melon at just the right time. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on its delightfulness.
Navajo Sweet is the same size, shape, and color as most of the melons on this list. However, one thing that’s unique about it is that it has thicker skin, making it a good option for growing in cooler climates or harvesting during the fall.
While having an awesome name, the Tiger Baby watermelon is best known for its sweet taste and crunchy texture. Like most icebox varieties, the Tiger Baby usually weighs between seven and ten pounds and takes roughly eighty days to mature.
It has bright green skin with distinct striping that almost looks like it’s been drawn on. It’s also a very dense melon with pink flesh, which makes the perfect healthy summer treat.
Micky Lee Watermelon
The Micky Lee watermelon is one of the lesser-known icebox varieties on the market. It’s usually sold as an organic watermelon and is known for being resistant to a number of pests and diseases.
Mickey Lee was first developed by the University of Florida’s Agricultural Research and Educational Center in 1986. It has an almost perfectly round shape and weighs between eight and twelve pounds.
In addition to its rotund shape, the Mickey Lee is known for having delicious, crunchy, red flesh, and an unusually green and striated shell.
For the final entry on our list, it seems fitting to end with a royally named and extremely unique icebox watermelon – The New Queen. Although it’s uncertain when or where New Queen originated, it’s been making history ever since.
New Queen won the 1999 AAS edible award, which is the gold standard for fruits and vegetables. It’s known for having delectable, orange flesh rather than traditional red.
New Queen also tends to have a darker shell than most traditional melons, and, although it’s not seedless, New Queen melons have very few seeds. It typically weighs around five or six pounds and can mature in as little as sixty days.
These aren’t the more commonly grown watermelons, so seeds can be tricky to come by! Check the watermelon seed listing at two of our favorite online seed retailers to see if they add Navajo Sweet, Tiger Baby, Mickey Lee,or New Queen Watermelon seeds to their inventories.
Growing, Caring, and Harvesting Your Icebox Watermelon
To get started with growing your own icebox watermelon, check out our guide on Planting Watermelons. Next, our Growing Watermelon guide will walk you through what you need to know to raise healthy watermelon plants.
Try a Member of the Icebox Watermelon Family!
While icebox watermelons are one of the more recent watermelon discoveries and took their sweet time getting famous, they’re one of the most popular types today. Icebox melons have a sweet taste, crunchy texture, and fleshy appeal that’s second to none.
If you’re curious and want to know more about even more watermelon varieties, visit our Watermelon Plants page for lots more blog posts!