Yes, a macron and an umlaut. It’s a diacritic-gasm!
Melōränge display at Berkeley Bowl Marketplace. The white spot is my flash.
According to the USPTO database, the Melorange (no diacritics) trademark was registered in October 2007 to a Dutch company, De Ruiter Seeds. I couldn’t find an explanation for the diacritical marks: They’re not Dutch, and they couldn’t possibly influence the pronunciation, which I take to be similar to that of Mel Orange, associate band director of the Pitt Panthers. The marks seem to be tacked on like glitter, simply to make the name look a little festive (and exotic).
The mel- prefix suggests a truncation of melon, which was originally a Greek word meaning “apple” and, by extension, any foreign fruit. It also suggests Latin mel, “honey.” (Compare mellifluous and Melissa.) The -orange part refers not to citrus but to the color of the flesh. The word is easy and fun to say—or would be if one weren’t momentarily stumped by the diacritical marks.
According to The Packer, a produce-industry publication, the melons in US markets were developed by the global seed company Monsanto (ugh, but I didn’t know the connection till I’d already bought a melon). The ones I saw this week were probably grown in California or Arizona.
Here’s a Melōränge in captivity (i.e., my melon-colored kitchen):
Small melons like the Melōränge—the one in the photo is only about 4 inches in diameter—are part of a “personal-size” trend. Watermelons are shrinking, too, Kim Severson wrote last year in the New York Times: “These days, a good watermelon … has to be small enough so people pushing grocery carts in big-city stores will buy it.”
The Packer article noted several other new named varieties of melons that will come to market soon: Avatar, Fascination, SweetPeak, SummerSlice, Sugar Heart, and Sugar Coat (love that one).
Those names reminded me of a verbal-branding project I worked on a few years ago for a growers’ cooperative in Minnesota that had developed a new apple varietal. Those growers were just about the nicest people I’ve ever worked with, and from a creative standpoint, it was a wonderfully satisfying project. So even though in the end the client (nicely) rejected all of my names—many of which were pretty fabulous, if I say so myself—and went with the inappropriate, hard-to-spell, internally generated name they’d unfathomably favored all along, I can’t complain. They did pay me promptly, and generously. And they were awfully nice.
And now I have a long list of swell names for fruit varietals, ready for picking. Not one of them involves diacritical marks. Call me!