By Law: Is the Tomato Legally a Fruit or Vegetable?

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It’s the age old question.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? 

In 1893 Congress had passed a law taxing vegetables but…you guessed it…NOT taxing fruits. And in the a case that made its way to the highest court in the country, Nix v. Hedden, the supreme court gave us an answer.

For a scientist, the tomato is a fruit because it has seeds and is edible – like an apple or a lemon.

However, the Court in the Nix case looked at how tomatoes are used by people and restaurants in cooking.

Restaurants don’t generally serve tomatoes by themselves or as a desert – they are usually incorporated in the main dish – like pizza, lasagna, tomato soup or spaghetti.

The Legal Answer:

The Court said in the context of the law taxing tomato as a FOOD, the tomato is a vegetable because that is how people use it as a food and they rejected the botanical definition.

SO, if people ever start eating tomatoes more like we eat apples, let’s challenge this law and get the tomato recognized under the law for what it is – a fruit!  JUSTICE FOR TOMATOES!

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.