The controversy as to whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable has been around for some time now. But did you ever hear the story as to why there was so much conflict as to how to classify it? Well, in order to get the real story you have to back back a few years. Actually you have to go back over a hundred years for the answers to this story.
Back in 1893 the United States Supreme Court made a ruling that tomatoes were to be classified as vegetables and that is the way that it’s been for over 100 years. But you might ask yourself, why was the very highest court in the United States asked to make a ruling on this controversial issue? The answer comes from an issue surrounding what else but taxes. In the 1890’s there were three fruit importers named George, John and Frank Nix who were in the business of importing and they just so happened to have a shipment of tomatoes arriving from the West Indies. It was this shipment of tomatoes that would create a huge controversy that to this day is still something that people argue about. During this time period in the 1890’s there were no taxes placed upon the imports of fruits but all vegetables had taxes levied against them. These fruit importers, in an effort to avoid the taxes on the tomatoes, wanted them classified as fruits so that’s how we got to the point of engaging the highest court in the land.
In the court’s decision it did in fact acknowledge that tomatoes were technically a fruit but in what the court called the “common language of the people” they should be classified as vegetables. In addition to tomatoes the court also ruled that peas, squash, cucumbers and beans should also be classified as vegetables because they are grown in the common kitchen garden and because, for the most part, they were normally served as part of a meal rather than as a dessert. It’s at this point where history wrote the book on tomatoes being classified as a vegetable.
So there you have the real story. Whether you personally want to classify the tomato as a fruit or vegetable is really up to you. However, according to the law of the land they are and will remain vegetables and all because of an issue over taxes.