Tomatoes are vegetables

Oftentimes when I’m enjoying a tomato, some bookish fellow will stop adjusting his eyeglasses for a minute to tell me, in his nasally little voice, “You know, tomatoes aren’t vegetables. They’re actually a type of fruit.” Immediately, everyone within earshot stops what they’re doing. In hushed tones my friends start to say, “Oh, snap, shit’s going down.” If I’m at a party the DJ will stop the record, and somebody will flick on the lights. No one even questions why I’m eating a tomato at a party, because everyone has learned to let me enjoy my tomatoes in peace. I’m not even going to make any sort of joke in this update, because what I always proceed to tell these nebbish blowhards should be digested as immutable lifeless facts:

*Fact one: It is true that botanically a tomato is a fruit. Everyone talks about this. But guess what: so are squash, green beans, bell peppers, and cucumbers. Are you still prepared to pretend you’re a botanist?

*Fact two: To get even more specific, tomatoes are berries. You might also want to note that bananas, avocados, and chili peppers are also berries—and that, botanically, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries? Not berries at all, my friend, but aggregate fruits.

*Fact three: Check this out, Gregor Mendel: “vegetable” doesn’t even have much botanical meaning. It’s a culinary term and since the tomato isn’t sweet, it’s treated as a vegetable for cooking purposes.

*Fact four: In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court officially declared that a tomato is a vegetable based on its usage and should be treated as such in accordance with the Tariff Act of 1883, motherfucker.

By now, the egoistic tomato-as-fruit proponent is lying unconscious on the floor with blood flowing from his nose. I didn’t even hit him, I just laid down some knowledge. Then the DJ restarts the party music and everybody begins dancing—everybody but me. I’ve got a vegetable to enjoy.

77 thoughts on “Tomatoes are vegetables

  1. Oh hey, it’s not even dead! Surely you didn’t interpret “every day in January” as “even the weekends in January.” I couldn’t possibly update every day during each weekend! Never would I make such a silly promise as this.

  2. Who cares what the US Supreme Court says? I bet they’re the same people who’d try to claim that Pi = 3 because THAT’S WHAT IT SAYS IN THE BIBLE.

  3. In 1897 the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously passed a measure redefining the area of a circle and the value of pi. (House Bill no. 246, introduced by Rep. Taylor I. Record.) The bill died in the state Senate

  4. I agree that you have a right to be upset when someone drops this “fun” fact. Because it’s stale. There’s nothing “fun” about it anymore. Everyone knows it. But regardless, it is still a fact and cannot be trampled upon by half-logic that does not even address the statement itself.

    Points one and two are counted out for topicality. They are not pertinent to your source of frustration. A tomato is a fruit even if a banana is a fruit and a tomato is a fruit even if it is also a berry. Regardless of their trueness, they are irrelevant to the argument of the tomato being a fruit.

    As for point three, according to Britannica “the term vegetable refers to the fresh edible portion of a herbaceous plant—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or fruit”. That’s right, all fruits are vegetables, but this does not necessarily hold true vice versa.

    Although my argument for point three just invalidated your point four, I’ll extrapolate anyways. The judgement favored day-to-day usage of the terms (practically catering to nescience) and openly admits that the Tariff Act used the connotational meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable”, not the technical botanical meaning, which of course this argument is for. Here again, I’m catering to the afore applied “facts”. In reality, the Supreme Court can say the sky is green and it would still be blue. They only rule on laws and have no value whatsoever in the scientific community.

    And just so there are no mistakes (and for fun), Mendel never had any learning in botany. At most, he was a diligent gardener. He is only known for applying principles to the reproduction of plants and setting down the roots of genetics. This does not require any botanical knowledge as it can be done with any evolving life-form, not purely plants. This is already disregarding the fact that there is a scientific vegetable kingdom genetically. Thus it holds botanical value over his outdated “culinary” definition (which had to have been made prior to 1884). This is science, not a kitchen.

    It’s a fruit one way or the other. Call it a vegetable if you like, because a tomato is still a vegetable. But it’s like using the phrase “kitchen appliance” when you really mean “refrigerator”. It’s correct but could be misleading if it is used in a case of practical application. Putting bread in the fridge definitely won’t give you toast. At any rate, anyone who says a tomato isn’t a seed bearing product of a plant (which is the definition of a fruit by American Heritage Dictionary) is just plain ignorant.

    Oops, I forgot a distracting metaphorical situation to base my argument upon and entertain readers so they won’t question my logic. Maybe I’ll flower it up next time and state everything as a fact so as to assert my correctness. Too late now.

  5. Okay, so its a fruit AND a vegetable, jeez. =P

    ~Note that you say its like calling a fridge a kitchen appliance, but vegetable is actually more specific than fruit (since all fruits are vegetables, but not all vegetables are fruits), so it isn’t like that at all. Calling a tomato a fruit is like calling a fridge a kitchen appliance; calling it a vegetable is like calling your fridge a kitchen appliance that you use to keep stuff cold, since vegetable also suggests the manner in which you use it.

    Other than that, you’re both right. =)

    Also, I’m going to say that a metaphorical situation would indeed have made it more entertaining. Next time, my friend, next time.

  6. haha that made me laugh. I sent it to some people.
    I didn’t know all those awesome facts about vegetables/fruits before!
    Actually people have argued with me about tomatoes before, as well. And now, thanks to you, I’ll know what to say to them

  7. Derek: You’re a man of few words, and I can respect that.

    Seriously though, I’m impressed that you dedicated such a large portion of your Saturday evening to composing your essay, which deserves its own Library of Congress Control Number. I understand that a film adaptation of your comment is also in the works, which is wonderful news.

    However, I do feel obligated to point out a few misconceptions you seemed to have had with my entry, because it strikes me that you’ve missed the point. Facts 1 and 2 are not, as you’ve said, counted out for topicality. Derek, I created the topic. Fact 2 could have been related to Batman and still been germane. But the reason I included Facts 1 and 2 is because—and now I’m spelling out the intent of my entry—is because I object to people who obsess over the tomato’s fruit status to the exclusion of other analogous fruits. This is to say, some people are willing to accept the tomato’s botanical classification, probably because it is red and round and sort of resembles a fruit they’re already familiar with, but unwilling to accept, or ignorant to, botanical facts that haven’t been made into platitudes.

    Also, because you’re still confused about this, I’ll repeat that botanists don’t get off on using the term “vegetable.” It is a largely subjective term—and what we prepare as vegetables isn’t necessarily relevant to botanists. Incidentally, your idea that “all fruits are vegetables” comes from your chronic misreading. The definition you quoted is speaking of herbaceous plants, not fruit-bearing trees. Nobody is calling an apple a vegetable.

    In any case, your mention of the Tariff Act belabors my own point. The government was indeed referring to the culinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” not the botanical one, and my point is that there’s a difference. In general, Derek, language often accounts for multiple conflicting meanings for the same word. Botanists and chefs can assign two different labels to the tomato and they’ll both be entirely correct. For the layman to sit around using the botanical definition of tomatoes while ignoring the botanical perspective on everything else is worse than pedantry—it’s selective pedantry.

  8. More importantly, is cheesecake a pie or a cake? Do you timidly fall back on the name or do you generalize what properties make an object a pie or cake and dare to classify it contrary to its nomen.

  9. The people who call tomatoes fruit are criminals and should be imprisoned and flogged. Many children have probably died this way. What a sad shame – Jesus will be sending them directly to hell.

  10. > I stumbled here on accident, and saw the comment the moron Dave from item 7 left. What an idiot.

    I don’t think anyone who uses phrases like “on accident” has the right to call anyone else a moron.

    Item 7 is entirely correct – just because some high and mighty legal type says something doesn’t make it true. I also note that this blog post is claiming that a decision made by an American court is binding on reality throughout the world – how disgustingly typical.

  11. In reply to number 20~
    And here we have some pseudo-intellectual complaining that the blog post is too generic for his tastes. He doesn’t seem to grasp the nature of eKarjala.

  12. I stumbled here and laughed. As a side note, I’ve seen Hizzoner threatening people about Jesus sending them to Hell on a different site, and to see the same person (or at least someone acting like Hizzoner) is amusing as well.

  13. aha.
    amazin shit.
    nothing better than proving an arrogant bastard who thinks he knows everything wrong.

    btw bob dole can fuck off. go have a wank or something.

  14. I think that future generations will NEVER believe the huge amounts of time wasted by us…
    Unless they’ll also have an internet.

  15. To the people throwing hissy fits about the governmental allusions in the blog and comments – calm down. And to ‘me’ (post #20) he meant he was using StumbleUpon, a great new program that has been revolutionizing the way people browse the internet. I bet, judging from your post, that your the religious type..and Caucasian to boot – how disgustingly typical.

  16. Wickens, I don’t feel like composing such an extensive piece as you and Derek did. I have not the time today. What I did notice though is that you tried to say that Derek was referencing the Tariff Act as a culinary thing. In truth, he was talking about it in the legal sense. It was covered under the umbrella just so that there wouldn’t be a major export fight over whether or not tomatoes were being taxed. It was a simple solution to a problem and it was errant and ridiculous to open it as evidence for a case to the state of a tomato. Derek only gets off that he is responding and in debate fashion, dropping evidence, however preposterous, would be conceding said evidence is correct.

    And Derek, really you should find another place for such things. Being correct doesn’t give you the right to be arrogant and egotistical UNTIL everyone concedes. Presenting yourself up as the well-spoken intellectual will only buy you so much in arguments. Your cunning may earn you more enemies.

  17. Interested, StumbleUpon is far from new, and “revolutionizing the way people browse the internet” sounds like a marketing slogan. Also, why is it okay to say, “Your thoughts are stupid so you must be religious… and white,”? Seriously, were you trying to see how many stupid things you could say in as few words as possible?

    (Nothing like berating folks for berating different folks. Like a traditional internet sport.)

  18. Jesus. And here I thought it was common knowledge that tomatoes were fruit-vegetables. Get your facts straight before you lay the smackdown!

  19. Martha Stewart’s theory on the fruit-vegetable duality of the tomato applies –

    TomAYto is a fruit.
    TomAHto is a vegetable.

    Let me try another way –

    Richard Simmons is a fruit.
    George Bush is a vegetable.

  20. Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?

    Sorry, I don’t see FRUIT in there motherfucker.

    Now be a good little kid and eat your vegetables.

  21. I remember back in the 70s (yeah, back in the 70s)when I first heard the ‘tomato is a fruit’ thing. At that time, it was explained to me that fruits are a class defined by their acidity, and THAT’S what classifies a tomato as a fruit rather than a vegetable.

  22. A friend referred me here, and dayum, if it wasn’t worth it. Had a great chuckle over this. Nothing like having a completely overwhelming response to subtle egotisical assholery.

  23. Hey look, I am a botanist and I know botanically what everything is. And Excuse me to point out your fumbles.
    Fact 1: Your saying all these facts and yet your going to say that because these things are “accepted” as a vegetable they are just like those other things you mentioned.
    2.And yes those “berries” aren’t really berries at all but are excepted as such because of their name, and your going to buy into that, treating them as technicallities.
    3. a tomato is in fact sweet but for cooking purposes are put in savory dishes to give it them a suculent flavor. I’m also an experienced cook.
    4. I dissagree with many of the supreme court issues so don’t give me that all powerful blow, I’ve done my research. The supreme court looked it up in the dictionary found definitions that proved the vegetable includes everything because it’s primary meaning is plant really, also they admitted it was a fruit but since they were focusing on economics they called a vegetable because that’s what the consumer viewed it as.
    Also for your information your swearing makes you seem to me a person who is unintelligent and ignorant.

  24. Amanda, you really aren’t one to talk about sounding unintelligent… in your high-and-mighty rush to lay the slam on someone voicing their opinion, you put down “excepted” instead of “accepted”… if you want to be taken seriously, re-read what you’re going to post on the internet before you post it. Spell check only fixes the spelling…

  25. Very funny, and a giant “BAH” on Derek for trying to demean a topically differentiated point. I want to add that since this is all a giant argument of semantics-being-complicated-by-scientific-classification, use of other examples is fine if not necessary, since words only have meaning by their context. And since when I think of tomatoes as being in salads and on burgers and other places esteemed for vegetables, it makes more sense to allow it to be a vegetable and shun science for bastardizing an otherwise simple principle: If it’s sweet when you squeeze it into juice, it’s a fruit. If it’s more salty, then it’s vegetable. Tomato juice seems salty to me, so I call it a vegetable.

  26. Wait… I think we’re missing the big picture here, people, brought up in #18. IS a cheesecake a cake? Or is it a pie?

  27. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.

    You have no idea how to formulate an effective argument. None of those “points” have any real merit.

    You’re just a smug little prick who’s scared to be wrong. Get off your high horse.

  28. Almost every one of those points is so rife with validity that you can smell the shit on your tongue.

    The point you’re missing, however, is that in an online journal that is largely built around humour, I think ‘formulating an effective argument’ is somewhere near the bottom of his list of priorities with this or any other entry, just above giving a fuck what you think, you ridiculous, weeping botanical crusader.

    Speaking of formulating an effective argument, telling someone that they fail to do so is not, in itself, formulating an effective argument. Your post basically says, “This is dumb. You’re wrong. You’re a prick,” an argument with the intellectual grace of a retarded worm chewing off its own arse. Find another random blog entry to cry about, you silly little man.

  29. 16 TOTALLY told 11. He was too stupid to even see the comic appeal this article has and went straight to dissing it with narcissistic babble.

    11 was probably thinking, “Hey, let’s use big, vague words and phrases so that I sound smart AND don’t have to be specific.”

    11 is proof that some pent up anger isn’t quite enough to make a sensible argument, no matter how smart you try to sound.

  30. Avocados aren’t berries. That’s just stupid. Berries are fruits that contain multiple seeds. Strawberries aren’t even a fruit; they are called accessory fruits, which is slightly different.

    Vegetable can also refer to any vegetative structure of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, tubers) meaning any part that is not directly involved with reproduction (flowers, fruits, seeds).

    Finally, of course the government thinks a tomato is a vegetable. When has the government ever been right about anything?

    You tried to make a nice point, but are missing some details. I’m sure your mom still thinks you’re cool though.

  31. “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is not putting it in the fruit salad.”
    I like this quote but does it even hold truth anymore? After reading this post and everyone’s comments, I’m not even sure if a tomato can talk and walk and tell me to go make it a sandwich (sans tomato).

  32. alright, I’m going to keep this simple so that people don’t accuse me of try to act like a stuck up intellectual. I’m not even out of Highschool yet, but I’m smart enough to know that using big words doesn’t mean you’re smart, but it also doesn’t mean that you are just a poser. its the freaking internet, and to assume that everyone is stupid (while an actually reasonable idea, since there are so many trolls and idiots out there) is not always the right course of action. like people have said before, this is an argument of semantics, and both sides have given good arguments for their opinions. and by good arguments i mainly mean Derek, Amanda (by the way, you cant say that those berries disregard their actual category because of their name, then that’s like saying that /straw/berries come from straw, and should be treated as such), and Wickensworth. I do not mean the people who put down the arguments of these people without making their own arguments in opposition. its not being a psuedo-intellectual prick if you want to back up your opinion with facts.

  33. From point four, you’re saying tomatoes are fruits everywhere except the United States of America, where it’s a vegetable “because the law says so”. The law hasn’t been wrong before (note the sarcasm).
    Point 1 and 2 was in favor of tomato being a fruit, and you’re wrong about point 3 (tomatoes are sweet). Point four was your main argument, and you only got *that* because the government wanted an excuse to get more money.
    For blog entry that’s supposed to be funny, wow. You really disappoint. Hopefully StumbleUpon never brings me across this again.

  34. Jesus christ. All you guys shut the fuck up please. If you don’t like the blog, leave, but don’t be an asshole about it. Obviously you have a different sense of humour.

    And is it really worth trying to be all cool in front of all your anonymous comment buddies to make yourself an elitist ass by arguing with someone about the fucking botanical classification of tomatos their blog post?! Clearly it isn’t a serious story. Clearly you need to grow up a little.

    Im looking at you, derek. Figuratively.

  35. I like how everyone’s fighting and arguing over this like it’s a huge deal, even over a year later. It’s a food, get over that someone disagrees with you. This is supposed to be more for laughs anyways, and to point out people have been saying that tomatoes are actually fruit for years and years and years. I remember hearing it in second grade and I’m 20 now.

  36. 1- will people leave religion and the bible out of nonsensical arguments like this.
    and 2-
    knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit
    wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad

  37. I’m so damned pissed off about this tomato issue! I’m tired of it being such a big part of my life dominating me – I want my life back.
    All I can think about is goddamn tomatos and fucking vegetables all day and it’s destroying me. I’m not sleeping, not eating – don’t even SHOW me a tomato – I’m slipping at work, friends don’t speak to me anymore.
    My life was so much better before I got into this whole damned tomato fruit/vegetable paradox – I’m a botanist for christ sake – just leave well alone if you ask me, don’t delve to deep or else you will come across the dark side of vegetable and fruit classification…

  38. Actually, I think you will find that tomatoes are actually fruit. This is a common mistake to make and you should not feel bad about it.

  39. I’d just like to point out that rc5 is an idiot (12th comment) They said that because all fruits are vegetables calling a tomato a vegetable is more specific… am I the only one who finds that statement semi-retarded

  40. Tomatoes don’t have any feelings, or rights, we can call them whatever we like.

    Surely a more important issue is people who don’t put the ‘e’ on the end?

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