TDISH: What Is a Tomato?

On May 10, 1893, in Nix v. Hedden, the United States Supreme Court declared that tomatoes are a vegetable, not a fruit – for legal purposes.  Why, you ask, would the Supreme Court care enough about the classification of produce to hear this case?  Because it had to do with tariffs and income for the country!

The unpopular Tariff of 1883 called for substantially higher tariff rates on vegetables than on fruit.  As such, tomato importer, John Nix, sued the Port of New York Collector, Edward Hedden, to recover what Nix argued was overpayment of import duties.  Despite testimony from botanists that demonstrated that technically, tomatoes are a fruit, the Supreme Court declared in a unanimous decision that a tomato is, in common parlance, a vegetable.  For that reason, the tomato is legally a vegetable.

Featured Image. “Tomato.” By Taken byfir0002 | 20D + Sigma 150mm f/2.8 – Own work, GFDL 1.2.
Nix v. Heddon.

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