Still wondering if tomatoes are vegetables or fruits? Here are some fun (and educational) facts.
By Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate
- For starters, here's how to pick a good one: Look for one that is blemish-free, firm to the touch, and noticeably fragrant.
It should seem heavy for its size and give slightly under pressure.
- Tomatoes are native to South America but spread to Mexico, where European explorers discovered the fruit in the late 1400s
and took it home.
- Believing tomatoes had aphrodisiac qualities, the French called them pommes d'amour (or "love apples") from the 1600s until the modern French word tomate became more commonly used.
- Tomatoes were thought to be poisonous when Robert Gibbon Johnson brought them to Salem, New Jersey, from Europe in the early
1800s. To disprove that notion, Johnson, a wealthy local landowner, ate an entire basket of them in front of a shocked crowd
on the courthouse steps on September 26, 1820.
- A tomato is technically a fruit because it is a ripened ovary of a plant. But for trade purposes a tomato is considered a
vegetable. The identity crisis stems from an 1893 Supreme Court ruling that classified the tomato as a vegetable so it could
be taxed under tariff law.
- The 1978 low-budget cult movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! inspired three sequels, the first of which starred George Clooney.
- The largest tomato on record―a whopping seven pounds, 12 ounces―was picked in Edmond, Oklahoma, in 1986.