Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why is there so much confusion over whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable?

When you type "tomato definition" into Google it comes up with the following definition...

"A glossy red, or occasionally yellow, pulpy edible fruit that is typically eaten as a vegetable or in salad."

The main reason why it's classified as a fruit is that it's "pulpy" and has edible seeds.

Often when we think of a tomato our minds automatically classifies it as a "vegetable."

But here's the thing...

Under the definition of "edible seeds, "squash, cucumbers, green beans, corn kernels, eggplants, and peppers are also labelled as fruits.

One of the reasons why we've come to think of these fruits as vegetables is that we generally consider fruits as being sweet and vegetables as being "not sweet."

But there's another reason that may just be at the heart of all this "tomato fruit or vegetable issue."

It involves a man by the name of John Nix.  And another man by the name of John Nix.  And George Nix and Frank Nix.

In the United States the Tariff Act of March 3rd 1883 called for a tax to be paid on all imported vegetables, but not fruit.

The Nix boys (rightly so) considered the tomato to be a fruit.  But the government was classifying it as a vegetable and taxing it accordingly.

So they brought suit against Edward L Heeden, the Collector of the Port Of New York.
They wanted to recover all duties they had paid up to that point.

It turned into a battle of the dictionary definitions.  And not surprisingly the government's dictionary won.  From 1893's Nix v Hedden decision onward, for custom purposes, the tomato has been classified as a vegetable.

In 2005, the state of New Jersey made the tomato its official state vegetable citing Nix v Hedden as a reference point.

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