You Say Tomato, I say…Taxes!


Today in History, May 10: 1893 – The Supreme Court rules, in Nix v Hedden, that the tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit. This weighty issue came to the court via taxes being levied on vegetables by the the collector of the port of New York. The court’s logic…”Justice Gray, citing several Supreme Court cases (Brown v. Piper, 91 U.S. 37, 42, and Jones v. U.S., 137 U.S. 202, 216) stated that when words have acquired no special meaning in trade or commerce, the ordinary meaning must be used by the court. In this case dictionaries cannot be admitted as evidence, but only as aids to the memory and understanding of the court. Gray acknowledged that botanically, tomatoes are classified as a “fruit of the vine”; nevertheless, they are seen as vegetables because they were usually eaten as a main course instead of being eaten as a dessert.” So…there is precedence for…its not a mandate, its a tax…because we say so.

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