New Jersey’s favorite fruit (or vegetable, depending on whom you ask) got the party it deserved at the Salem Tomato Festival Saturday.
The annual celebration, held along Main Street in downtown Salem, was inspired by Robert Gibbon Johnson, the New Jersey man who is credited with proving to the world that tomatoes were not “poison apples.”
According to legend, Johnson stood on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown Salem in the early 1800s and ate a basket of tomatoes to assure his fellow South Jerseyans that the “love apples” would not kill anyone.
A crowd gathered to watch Johnson, a prominent local citizen and agriculture advocate, die on the courthouse steps. But, of course, the tomatoes were harmless and he lived.
On Saturday, actors dressed in period costumes reenacted the historic moment in New Jersey tomato history. The tomato — which is officially a fruit, but considered a vegetable by many nutritionists — was also celebrated with food trucks, art competitions, games and other tomato-themed activities.
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Kelly Heyboer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.