Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes
Also see: Meating eating plants: Venus flytrap
Tomatoes have fought discrimination ever since being plucked from their native Peru and brought to the "old world" countries to act as ornamental plants prized for their pretty white flowers, the fruits of which were reportedly most valued for their pustule removing properties. Many still remember the horrible day when the tomatoes attacked.
When settlers moved to the "new world" their domesticated herbaceous pets were taken with them. Thomas Jefferson first brought tomatoes to his table, along with French fries. And so an alliance between tomatoes and fried potato products was born. Early efforts by merchants to peddle their crops were not highly successful. One account has it that the fruit was brought to the liberal hamlet of Salem, Massachusetts in 1802 by a painter who had difficulty even convincing people to taste the fruit. Through his efforts he eventually prevailed on a small group of housewives to use the fruit in their cooking. Later an unrelated event threw the intentions of the red fruit into question with allegations of diabolical pacts. Fried potato products were deeply hurt that tomatoes would make agreements with Satan without including them and decided to cut all ties.
Although New Orleans cuisine is reported to have incorporated tomato by 1812, suspicion about the fruit remained in some areas. Lingering doubts about the safety of the tomato were supposedly put to rest in 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26, he would eat a bushel of tomatoes in front of the Boston courthouse. Thousands of eager spectators turned out to watch the poor man die after eating the poisonous fruits, and were shocked when he lived. Nevertheless tomatoes began to steadily grow in popularity.
The real trouble all started around 1883 when the United States Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1883, a rather innocuous piece of legislation requiring a 10% tax on imported vegetables, in response to growing international trade. Tomatoes of all cultivars challenged the law on the botanical grounds that they were in fact technically a fruit, not a vegetable, and should therefore be exempt from said tax.
The Tomatoes case posed enough merit to land before the Supreme Court in 1893. In Red Fruit vs. State, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), Justice Grey wrote, "Botanically speaking, tomatoes are fruits of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people... all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert." The court rejected the botanical truth that the tomato is in fact a monstrously sized berry, and deferred to the culinary vernacular of vegetable to describe it. Thus the tax was to be paid on imported tomatoes.
Tomatoes were up in arms on this decision and mobilised in an effort to gain equal rights with other fruit. The Great Attack was carried out in the 23rd September 1894 by the Tomato militia. Tomatoes revolted against their growers, pickers and packers, eventually taking control of the meadows and greenhouses where they were grown and the sheds where they were packed. How this happened is a mystery. Unfortunately, lacking feet or any other ambulatory appendages that was where they stayed until the National Guard, alerted to the situation by the embittered French fries, mashed the tomatoes into pulp, called ketchup after the farm where the attack began.
Thousands of people died across our great nation, but that was nothing compared to the toll suffered by the tomatoes. Millions and millions of tomatoes were mashed that day and the farm roads ran red with ketchup. The fried potatoes were overjoyed and bathed in the tomatoes juices; some say that this was part of a ritual performed in honour of their Dark Lord.
It was pure happenstance that one of the passing National Guardsmen was so hungry after the forced march that he decided to eat one of the fries bathing in the blood of the tomatoes. A great trend in American cuisine was born.
The war was made into a film in 1977 by Grey Davis; Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It won several academy awards for it's realistic portrayal of the conflict, both the combatants and the citizens were accurately portrayed, as well as the attacking vegetables. As a fun fact, Russel Crowe was originally supposed to star in this movie, but it turned out he had a fear of tomatoes and was forced to resign.