10 Metaphors of Summer Desserts in Music and the Watermelon Sugar High Meaning
Summer desserts and music are obviously two very different things, but they do have some special similarities! They both have ingredients that create a beautiful result, connect people in very meaningful ways, and add a little extra zest to life. Today, we’re looking at some iconic summer jams that use dessert as imagery. Let’s get to the bottom of watermelon sugar high meaning and some other mysterious metaphors. And most importantly… find some delicious summer treats to recommend and try!
What do Desserts Represent in Music?
Metaphors are a creative and effective way to communicate your feelings or a situation when a word simply won’t suffice. Poetry and music are riddled with metaphors because they can make a personal story more universal. The puzzle of connecting two different ideas feels satisfying and can form a deeper connection to the material and artist.
Desserts are a rich source of meaning. At one point in history, only royalty or the very wealthy could afford to indulge in desserts. When sweets became more accessible to everyone, people would have them for special occasions or big family gatherings. If you think about a wedding cake or a traditional family dessert that takes all day to make, they’re a once-a-year or once-a-lifetime dessert. That feeling of coming together and indulgence has given desserts a common metaphor of nostalgia and decadence that we see a lot in our summer desserts songs. We’ll get more into the watermelon sugar high meaning, but it’s a perfect example of mixing these two themes. To begin our list, let’s start with a classic.
Banana Split for My Baby (1956) by Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera, & The Witnesses
The banana split’s origin story is split (forgive the pun). Whether it comes from Pittsburgh, Boston, or Wilmington, it isn’t cut and dry. But wherever you go, the construction of the dessert is the same. The ice cream chef splits a banana in half lengthwise and surrounds three scoops of ice cream. One scoop of the ice cream must be chocolate, one vanilla, and one strawberry. Then they top everything with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Every part of this refreshing dessert ice-screams summer, and it’s the perfect nourishing treat for those hot days!
The song Banana Split for My Baby details the decadent and delicious ingredients a man orders for a banana split. He orders it for his partner and exaggerates everything, especially compared to the glass of “plain water” he gets for himself. This comical indulgence shows how much he wants her to have everything; from seven cans of fudge to an hour’s worth of whipped cream pouring. The banana split is literal but also represents everything he wants to provide for her and how much he cares.
Cotton Candy Land (1963) by Elvis Presley
There is a lot of imagery when you think of a North American summer carnival; there’s the Ferris wheel, there are games and rides, and maybe a clown somewhere. But one of the single most exciting moments for any sweet-toothed carnival-goer is when you find the cotton candy stand. It might be because cotton candy needs a specific machine to heat and liquefy the sugar, so you can’t get it just anywhere. There are also different versions of spun sugar. Cotton candy is most popularly sold in blue raspberry or pink vanilla flavours. But Dragon’s Beard candy is another spun treat that became popular in China and is a handspun candy with peanut or sesame seed filling. Iranian or Persian candy floss, also known as Pashmak Candy (video), is another and can be eaten on its own or on cakes or ice cream. Sometimes it is garnished with ground pistachios. Turkish Pişmaniye Candy is a Turkish or Bosnian candy floss that blends the spun sugar with flour and butter. Spun sugar is a popular treat worldwide for good reasons.
Cotton Candy and carnivals share a close link with the idea of childhood and specifically the freedom of summer. American singer and actor, Elvis Presley wrote a lullaby using cotton candy imagery for his role in the musical It Happened at the World’s Fair. In it, he talks about a land of cotton candy, representing a sort of dreamland. The use of cotton candy works so well in this song because of the cloudy texture and dreamy nature of cotton candy. You can almost picture falling asleep on a pillow of spun sugar!
Lemon Meringue (2000) by Poe
Lemon meringue is a sweet and bitter pie that stacks pie crust, lemon curd, and meringue on top of each other. Pairing fruits and meringue in pie goes as far back as the 18th century, but the first instance of lemon meringue was in the 1860s. The southern United States holds this dessert in high regard because it has light ingredients, and you have to refrigerate it. That and the freshness of lemons makes it outstanding in that hot summer heat!
American vocalist and lyricist Poe released her song Lemon Meringue on the concept album, Haunted. In it, Poe outlines her struggle with her life feeling bitter like lemons. She longs for sweetness and likens it to bittersweet lemon meringue. She created much of her album while working through the grief of her father’s passing, and it contains audio of her father from her childhood. Her brother, author Mark Z. Danielewski, worked alongside Poe on a companion novel that became a cult phenomenon called House of Leaves. Poe and Mark even accompanied each other on their album and book tours as special guests. Lemon meringue is mentioned in both pieces to represent the pursuit of pleasure during life’s discomfort.
Milkshake (2003) by Kelis
The image of 1950s teenagers wearing varsity jackets, poodle skirts, and drinking milkshakes is iconic. There are many instances in pop culture of characters using milkshakes to conjure that image of youth (e.g., All About Eve, Ghost World, Pulp Fiction, Lolita, etc.). But the first iteration of a milkshake in the late 19th century wasn’t so child-safe! Milkshakes back then were similar in texture and taste to eggnog and popularly contained whiskey. It wasn’t until the 1920s that they became synonymous with creamy drinkable ice cream, malt, and the nostalgia of youth. To this day, the most popular flavours of milkshakes are the classics: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
Milkshake by American music artist Kelis is one of those songs that, similarly to the dessert, entered the world’s zeitgeist and never left. It homes the iconic line “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” but many people only need to hear the opening cords and they know exactly what is coming. Kelis said that the song was about that extra something, a type of charisma some female-identifying people give off that’s almost indescribable. However, many people have tried to describe it and come up with various meanings. They are mostly body parts, but the fun of Milkshake is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean… as long as it brings the boys to the yard.
Red Flavor (2017) by Red Velvet
Red Flavour is a song about all the sweet parts of summer, and many fruits are mentioned as desserts. Historically, the last course of a meal was a round of fresh or dried fruits drizzled with honey or cream. Eventually, this course they called “le fruit” was renamed “dessert” after the French word “desservir,” meaning “clear the table.” Fruit was still a dessert for a long time, and even today, it is a big part of confections. Desserts like crumbles, pies, meringues, shortcakes, and parfait are all delicious ways to cool down in the summer. But if you just want to sprinkle some sugar on fresh fruits, that’s genius in its simplicity as well.
Red Velvet is a South Korean band that has gained praise for defying gender stereotyping in girl band groups. The band comprises five women named Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri. In the Red Flavour song and this era of their music, each member of Red Velvet was assigned a different fruit (Grape, Pineapple, Watermelon, Blue Orange, and Kiwi) to represent them. The music video for Red Flavour is the visual definition of summer; upbeat and full of the fruits the singers represent. The song likens falling in love to enjoying the sweetness of life and fully captures that feeling of biting into fruit on a hot day. Speaking of biting into fruits, let’s jump into another fruity song and the watermelon sugar high meaning!
Watermelon Sugar (2019) by Harry Styles
There’s evidence of cultivated watermelons in modern-day Israel and Libya as far back as 3000 BCE. The fruit wasn’t originally so sweet, and people used them for hydration during dry periods. The water content of watermelons is still a big feature today and is part of what makes them such refreshing summer desserts. Unfortunately, it appears as though watermelon sugar is not really a thing. Actually, in some Mediterranean countries, watermelon is eaten together with salad and feta cheese. There has been an influx of watermelon desserts carrying the name in the past few years. But before the 2019 song, Watermelon Sugar, there was only watermelon and tequila-based beverage called a Watermelon Sugar and maybe a few desserts here and there.
One of the most popular desserts with watermelon flavour is fruit chews or gum. The sweet flavour of watermelon is unmistakable and very popular, especially in the summer. Watermelon sorbet or flavoured ice cream is also delicious. And if you’re a fan of chocolate, you can get chocolate-covered watermelon bites, sometimes on sticks even! Another cute watermelon dessert is carving a watermelon into a basket and filling it with fruit! It’s as good prepared as a dessert as it is on its own. Now, let’s get to the big debate.
What is the Watermelon Sugar High Meaning?
Watermelon Sugar is a pop song that English singer and actor Harry Styles released on his album Fine Lines. The chorus, “watermelon sugar high,” essentially got stuck in the head of everyone who heard it for weeks if not, months. People wanted to know what the watermelon sugar high meaning was! There was a definite assumption that it referred to a body part or something intimate. And especially in the music video, Harry and his team leaned into the excitement for this interpretation. However, it was not the initial intent.
The song took inspiration from In Watermelon Sugar (1968), a dystopic novel by Richard Brautigan. The book was lying around the recording studio when they were writing, and they thought it would be a good hook. Brautigan’s book takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where every day has a different coloured sun, and watermelon sugar is the most important resource. Before the immense curiosity brought about by the song’s release, Harry stated (video) his intent for the song. He used the idea of a sugar high and the dopamine that sweets release to depict the feeling of a new relationship. Watermelon sugar high is the euphoria of new love. And, of course, the sexual connotations people pick up on are part of that. Harry Styles has since said that it ultimately doesn’t matter what the song is about, and that’s exactly what makes metaphors so fun and meaningful! Once they resonate with people, they take on their own life.
Desserts will continue to bring us delicious metaphors, and we can’t wait to see what musicians come up with next. Perhaps a song about halo-halo? Or coconut macaroons? We can dream! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the watermelon sugar high meaning, and this year’s summer jams. Check out some refreshing and delicious summer desserts near you!