Naming Red Tomato

Michael shares some insight into the way back story of Red Tomato:

I’m not a baseball freak. But I was one growing up. So the first time I had to explain the origins of the Red Tomato name to a conference audience, I turned to baseball.

It was a national conference on food and agriculture sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation. I arrived at the auditorium 30 minutes early to scope out audience members as they dribbled in, looking for jocks or baseball caps. I found three willing recruits who said they could still field a ground ball with confidence. I handed each a baseball glove, cap, and told them where to sit.

When the time came, at the start of my presentation, the four of us reenacted the most famous double play combination in the history of the game–the Chicago Cubs’ trio: Tinkers to Evers to Chance. In place of the baseball, I used a so-called vine-ripe tomato (hard and pink) procured from a neighboring produce company that supplies pizza and sandwich shops. At Red Tomato we refer to these firm disappointments as nomatoes (suggested by Boston news commentator John Carroll.)

I drew my wooden bat like a sword. The first volunteer, the third baseman, jumped up on stage. I batted the nomato to him in the form of a slow ground ball. He scooped it off the stage and threw it to the back of the auditorium (to the 2nd basewoman) who caught it and threw it to our third recruit. Mission accomplished. Two outs. The nomato was cracked but still intact.

That was the point! When you can substitute a salad ingredient for a baseball and successfully complete a double-play using a wooden bat, something is wrong.

Our name Red Tomato evokes the tomato that dribbles down your cheek and leaves you wanting another bite, and another and another. It’s bright red. It’s soft when ripe. It’s juicy. It’s very flavorful. (And it explodes when struck by a wooden bat.)

Some things are better demonstrated than explained.