Uncommon Knowledge: Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables?

This question is not as simple as it may seem. The smarty-pants out there will quickly state that the tomato is a fruit. Botanically speaking, fruits are classified as the seed-bearing part of a flowering plant, a description which includes not only tomatoes, but also such produce as cucumbers, eggplants and pumpkins. But because they are not sweet, such foods are still also considered to be vegetables when it comes to food preparation. The distinction is surprisingly important, because it turns out that fruits and vegetables have different legal implications. So important, in fact, that the U.S. Supreme Court once had to step in and make the call. In 1893, in the case of Nix v. Hedden, the Court ruled that, when it comes to taxes and tariffs, the tomato is legally a vegetable.

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.


  1. Jen

    Tomatoes are fruit. Part of the nightshade family. People were scared of them for years cause they thought they were poisonous.

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