poisonous tomato
Malformed Mutant Tomato

It is thought that the first person to publicly eat a tomato in the United States and dispel the widespread myth that tomatoes were poisonous was Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson.

According to a popular story, in 1820, he stood on the steps of the old Salem County Courthouse in New Jersey in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people who had gathered to watch him commit what they believed would be a fatal act.

These spectators had come from far and wide, many expecting to witness a man risk his life by eating what was then considered a deadly poison.

Colonel Johnson reportedly bit into a basket of ripe tomatoes without suffering any ill effects, thereby challenging the prevailing beliefs of the time.

This act is said to have played a significant role in changing public perception about tomatoes, helping to transform them from a plant grown purely for ornamental purposes into a staple of American cuisine.

However, it’s worth noting that this story, while widely shared, is apocryphal and lacks direct historical evidence.

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