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Melon heads

lau-andree-52.jpg
By Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

Grey Cup fever has gripped Calgary, as has a run on watermelons, as the championship game approaches on Sunday afternoon.

Fervent Saskatchewan Roughriders fans have been snapping them up — to turn them into helmets as a show of support for their team.

greycup-melonhead2.jpg
Saskatchewan fans have been known to do some elaborate carving for the perfect melon helmet. (Kim Orynik)

Some stores in Calgary have already sold out of watermelons this week, so the Safeway chain had to place a special order, sourcing melons big enough for, well, human melons.

No one really knows the exact origin of this peculiar practice. Some say it started at a Riders game in Winnipeg in 2001; others say a guy got hot one day and stuck a melon on his head. A few Edmonton Eskimos fans lay claim to it as well, saying the melon helmets first appeared at the West Division final in 1997.

CFL.ca has a great video tracking its history and also some pointers on how to make the perfect melon helmet.

Norm Peel, an accountant from Regina who has made more than 100 helmets, also has a how-to posting here.

Important pointers:

  • Choose the greenest melon.
  • Cut out a triangle for air flow as the scooped-out melon dries upside down.
  • Don't forget to cut out holes for your ears.
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Riders fans show support for their team by plopping a melon on their melons. (CBC)

Watermelons are also handy for that other Saskatchewan tradition: yukkaflux (also spelled yukaflux, yuccaflux, yuckaflux, and yukka flux).

The most basic recipe is to add vodka (and/or whatever hard liquor is around) to a watermelon through a hole, and then capping it back up and leaving it to sit for a day or two for the fruit to absorb all the alcohol.

Cut open and enjoy.

Other variations include cutting up watermelon, strawberries, oranges and other fruit and marinating them in hard liquor in a large cooler, or injecting fruit with syringes of vodka.

Happy Grey Cup weekend!

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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