I discovered this completely by accident.

Yes, you can buy seedless watermelon, just as one day you will be able to buy self-scraping carrots and beds that make themselves.

But somehow there was a large container in the refrigerator filled with big heavily-seeded watermelon chunks. This is the kind of watermelon one buys from the Korean markets in Manhattan. It comes not in a thick rind but in a thin see-through plastic container, alongside chunks of other fruit in their own containers, sitting on beds of ice chips. (Ah, city life.) And at this particular moment, it was stacked on top of two other such large containers, one cantaloupe, one honeydew, on the top shelf of the refrigerator, in front of something I was aiming to retrieve. While I was on the cordless phone. So I was doing it with one hand.

In my mind, I was lifting the stack of plastic containers out of the refrigerator and temporarily setting it down on the counter, to retrieve my grail, which in this case was an Arizona fizzy chocolate egg cream (I forget their exact name for it, but it’s good), and then putting the melon stack back in its place.

That was the intended scenario.

Instead, because of the maldistribution of the melon chunks at various levels of this tri-containerized stack, an instant later I had the phone jammed between my should and ear, as with my second hand, now free, I was vainly trying to catch the top container — the one with the watermelon chunks — as it slid off the top and fell — splat — to the blue tile floor.

It was not unlike the moment that guy retrieved the film that had been near the radium with his handprint on it (sorry — but you know what I mean), or even, although I am first to grant I may be overstating the importance of my discovery, the time Archimedes jumped into the bath tub and — scalded by water hotter than he had expected — let out a shriek (Eureka!), which led to the invention of the single-handle hot-and-cold water faucet.

What happened, quite simply, is that, upon inspection of the juicy mess on the floor, I realized, in beginning to clean it up, that the seeds, with few exceptions — having a mass greater than the melon — had all jumped out of their slippery sockets and flown clear of the mess. With this simple splat, the melon had de-seeded itself.

It was — perhaps even more than a seedless melon would have been — delicious.

And I must tell you, in the interest of science if not the interest of getting you to hire my steady hand for some delicate task, that I somehow managed to do the exact same thing a few weeks later, a second time — and again the seeds flew clear.

So I think I am really onto something here.

Obviously, not everyone has a tile kitchen floor. And not everyone will be comfortable walking on the stickiness that remains when the juice dries. But with the principle established and confirmed, the rest is just refinement.

National Presto (NPK) — the $30 New York Stock Exchange-listed perennial underperformer with no debt that sells at one times cash (full disclosure: I own a little) — may finally win some respect if, instead of electric “bread slicing systems” and corn poppers, it sells an electric Watermelon Slab. No moving parts, just a slab on which to drop your watermelon chunks from a great height. With raised edges to keep the seeds from flying beyond its perimeter. Just drop and — Presto! — ready to eat.

With no moving parts, electric consumption would be minimal, adding to the Slab’s appeal.

A company with no debt selling at one times cash is essentially a company selling for free. Presto! You get your 6.5% dividend while you wait to rake in the profits from the electric Watermelon Slab and, you hope, a bump in the stock. The question is, what might such a company — “free,” when you net out its cash horde — actually be worth? And that depends on your opinion of electric corn poppers and such, which in turn depends on the amount of space you believe people have remaining way in the back of their closets for stuff like this, beside the fondue maker they never used, either.

 

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