Where Was the Tomato Once Considered Poisonous?

Right here in the United States! The tomato, which is so common in this country today, didn’t become a popular food here until just about a century ago. Before that, many people believed that a raw tomato was poisonous!

But in America, people were afraid to eat raw tomatoes until 1830, when a man named Robert Johnson stood on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, New Jersey, and dared to eat a raw tomato.

Spectators expected Johson to die from the tomato. When he didn’t, people realized the tomato was harmless, and it soon became popular in this country too.

Tomatoes first grew in Central America, and didn’t reach Spain and Italy until the 16th century. At first, the Spanish didn’t know what to do with the tomato, since they thought it was too tart to eat as a fruit. Then a chef at the royal court mixed tomatoes with olive oil and onions, and invented the world’s first tomato sauce.

The largest tomato ever grown was 4.25 pounds!