History & Origin: Where Do Tomatoes Come From?


What is a Tomato?

You probably think it’s a vegetable, right? As do most people. However, tomatoes are in fact not a vegetable, but rather, a fruit.

The United States Congress passed a tariff act requiring a 10% tax on imported vegetables in 1883. This was an attempt to counter the growing international trade at that time and one of the tariffs applied also included tomatoes, which were being treated as fruit instead of vegetable due to their botanical classification. John Nix, a tomato importer for 5 years and resident of Brooklyn NY became aware he would have to pay taxes on all his imports when his shipment arrived from Italy after reading about it in a newspaper article that said “tomatoes now classified as vegetables.” Angered by this news since he had not been charged any import duty before then Mr. Nix filed suit against U.S with Supreme Court challenging duties imposed under section 2212-2214 Tariff

Plant Family

Tomatoes and potatoes may be from the same family, but do you know what they have in common? Tomatoes belong to the genus Lycopersicon while potatoes belong to the genus Solanum. Both of which are found within the Solanaceae “flowering plant” taxonomy group. They share many similarities such as leaves and flowers that justifies this grouping together.

The UK – Introduction of the Tomato

The tomato plant has a complicated history in the UK. When it was introduced, some people were afraid to eat tomatoes because they thought these plants might be poisonous too. However, they had much more reason to fear other species of nightshade that looked similar to henbane and mandrake (Atropos belladonna), as well as deadly nightshades that caused hallucinations or death when used incorrectly for cosmetics purposes all over Europe! This Latin name means “beautiful woman” but is ironically also known by many different names including murder weed and devil’s cherry.

The poison of deadly nightshade was given to women during the medieval age for a variety of reasons. They would apply it as an extract on their eyes, dilating their pupils and making them fashionable at that time. When taken by those who were not aware about its hallucinogenic properties, they experienced visuals along with feelings like flying or weightlessness; this is another reason why Europeans avoided tomatoes because folklore suggested it could turn someone into a wolf if consumed in large quantities!

North America – Introduction of the Tomato

It is a well-known fact that tomato plants were distributed to North America by colonists from Britain. However, the fruits of these hardy plant are more valued for medicinal purposes rather than culinary use. George Washington Carver was an inventor and scientist who strongly urged his poor Alabama neighbors on their unhealthful diet consisting mainly of corn meal products; he had little success convincing them that tomatoes could be eaten as food, however they would accept it in small quantities when mixed with other ingredients such as peanut butter which became known then called “Tomate de Arbol.”

The tomatoes are a fruit that has been brought to North America by Europeans, but they were not readily accepted in the early days. The first mention of them is from 1802 when an artist who had difficulty selling his paintings was struggling with what he could sell and discovered this new plant on one of his travels through Salem. It took some time for it to be seen as popular because there were many people wondering if cooking its poisonous flesh would lead them into instant sickness or death! But eventually New Orleans cuisine started using it which helped spread their popularity around Louisiana where most other areas still felt wary about trying something so strange.

It’s thought that doubts about the plant was laid to rest, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced he will eat a bushel of tomatoes on September 26th in front of Boston courthouse. Thousands watched as the man committed suicide by eating poisonous fruit (at least so they thought).

As the Colonel ate more tomatoes he was stunned by his own survival. The crowd of onlookers gasped in horror as they watched him continue to chew and swallow every tomato thrown at him, but it didn’t matter because each bite would be worth their weight in gold if he could just make a show for them until sunrise!

Tomatoes have been a part of our culinary tradition for centuries. In 1835, tomatoes were sold by the dozens in Boston’s Quincy Market and it was not until Thomas Bridgeman published “The Vegetable Gardener” that we saw 4 varieties – Cherry Tomatoes, Pear Tomatoes (which he called Apple), Large Yellow Tomato (called Golden Ball) and finally Large Squash tomatoes
Bruist commented on how popular these fruits had become when they made their debut in his catalogue stating: There is no vegetable on my catalog which has obtained such popularity in so short a period as this one I am now considering.”

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