Regis & Kelly Tackle The ‘Vegemelon’

NEW ORLEANS (July 12, 2006) — As Regis Philbin struggled with his salt and pepper shakers, Kelly Ripa touched the Louisiana-grown oddity called everything from a vegemelon to a fregetable to her tongue. Then she took a bite.

“It’s good,” said Ripa on Wednesday morning’s “Live with Regis and Kelly” show. It’s like a “less-sweet cantaloupe” that would be “very good with vodka.”

The talk show hosts, sitting in their New York studio, sampled the last piece of unusual produce grown by accident in Houma, La., southwest of New Orleans, when seeds of cross-pollinated cucumber and cantaloupe plants yielded four yard-long, melon-like whatever-you-call-its.

The growers, the Dusenbery family of Houma, named it the cuculoupe.

Since getting a mention on Monday’s “Live with Regis and Kelly,” the family had to track down one of their cuculoupes, which they had already eaten or given away. One family still had half of theirs and gave it to the Dusenberys for the show.

The yellowish meat was served on a platter Wednesday morning with a little salt and pepper and yogurt dipping sauce on the side.

After getting a taste, Philbin and Ripa chatted by phone with Tim Dusenbery, a musician by trade, not a farmer, who said he’s written a song about the family’s strange cuculoupe.

They joked about how the cross-pollination occurred.

“We have some very fertile soil,” Dusenbery said, noting that he probably planted them too close together.

Dusenbery said the yellow meat of the cuculoupe is firm and tasty. It’s much longer than it is wide, like a cucumber, but yellowish and rigid, like a cantaloupe, he said.

Since Monday, the show’s producers have received a myriad of e-mails from viewers about their cross-pollinated creations, said executive producer Michael Gelman.

Among them, said Gelman, are the “eggwelon,” an eggplant crossed with a watermelon, the “squashadew,” a squash crossed with a honeydew melon, and the “zucelope,” a zucchini crossed with a cantaloupe.

“We look for kind of fun, interesting items” for the show, Gelman said.

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