(March 3, 9:43 a.m.) ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Establishing watermelon as a favorite among children is going to be a focus for the National Watermelon Promotion Board in 2008.

The Orlando, Fla.-based board has an advocate in the children’s television series, “The Wumblers,” which is owned by Giddy Gander, Fort Lee, N.J. Giddy Gander will continue partnering with the Plant City, Fla.-based National Watermelon Association through 2010, said Laura Wellington, CEO and president of Giddy Gander, and creator of “The Wumblers.” The NWA logo will be featured on all 26 first-season episodes, which began airing Sept. 1. They are contracted to run for three years on Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Trinity Broadcasting and its Smile of a Child network, Wellington said.

“It was a natural fit to incorporate watermelon because the characters are born out of watermelons, and watermelon is the most fun fruit around, and children love it,” Wellington said. “Watermelon provides a fun alternative to sweets and tremendous nutritional value, and this series really emphasizes caring for the child.”

The show airs in all seven continents, with a domestic audience of around 95 million, and Giddy Gander is discussing opportunities with several Latin American broadcasters, Wellington said.

Gordon Hunt, marketing director for the watermelon promotion board, said plush toys featuring the show’s characters, which display the association logo on products and tags, will be for sale in grocery stores this year.

There are plans for watermelons to earn some space in Weekly Reader for Kids, which is distributed to thousands of elementary schools and sent home to parents across the country, said Leslie Coleman, the board’s director of communications.