Back in the day, a tomato was a tomato was a tomato. In today's heirloom-obsessed farmers market culture, though, a tomato is certainly NOT just a tomato. It's a nuanced, idiosyncratic entity filled with quirks and characteristics that sets each variety of tomato apart from its seeded brethren. With so many to choose from, it's hard to even keep track of what's what, but fear not because I've got you covered. Here are some of the most popular tomato varieties in the most decisive form around: as high school yearbook superlatives.
“Most Likely to Play in the NFL”
Just like Shakira's hips, the name of this beefsteak variety does not lie. It's a big, meaty tomato and it's pretty much what people think of when they think “tomato.” The problem? Not a lot of substance there. These are the mealy guys you try to avoid in the winter; the ones who sit in class talking about how much they lift, bro, and how jacked their seeds are getting.
“Most Spirited/Possible Stalkers”
San Marzanos are so, so likable. I mean, come on, they make marinara taste amazing. That said, why are they everywhere? Seriously. Keep an eye out. You'll start seeing them all over the place. The marketing machine behind San Marzanos is intense and I don't even know if there IS a marketing machine. I think people/chefs/whoever just like to say “San Marzano.” They're not the prettiest 'maters on the block, but what they lack in looks, they make up in fantastic, rich flavor – you know, just like the ladies on the Flag Team.
“Most Likely to Write Fan Fiction”
Green Zebras are weird, man. They're not the Death Metal Goths and they're not the Henry Miller-worshipping art kids, but they're gothy and artsy all at the same time. They don't quite fit in with the rest of the tomatoes around, but that doesn't make them any less valuable. Like those kids who thrive on writing fan fiction, Green Zebras are best when you let them mature a little bit. That's when they become rich and famous and write stories about all of the Beefmasters that were mean to them in high school.
“Biggest Surprise Under the Surface”
Brandywines seem like normal tomatoes. They're technically beefsteaks, but you realize there's a lot more too them once you take a bite. They're those secret poet kids that seem boring but all of a sudden, they're English class superstars when the poetry unit rolls around. They blend in with everyone else nicely, but dig a little deeper and it's clear that these Brandywines are not what they appear to be.
Every school has at least one Yellow Pear. You know her or him well. Not an enemy in sight, super sweet, happy to talk to anyone and everyone. Maybe they're shaped a little funny, but it doesn't matter because as soon as they round the corner, they're giving you a hug and a smile. If schools had more Yellow Pears, the world would be a better place.
Those poor Early Girls. They're just so eager to please. While everyone else is taking their time to find their place at Tomato High, the Early Girls are standing next to the cute guys' lockers like, “Hey boys. Ready when you are!” They're there for you when you need them, all year long. Not a great look, Early Girls. Have some self-respect.
The story goes that Cherokee Purple seeds originally came from the Cherokee people and those seeds made their way to a man who keeps obscure tomato varietals alive as a hobby. Now, they're everywhere but keep your eyes out at the farmers market. A good amount of people stay away from the Cherokee Purples because of their dark, purple/black bruise-like color. Sadly, the tomatoes end up sitting on a small patch of farmer's tables all by themselves where government services are in short supply and the rate of Tomato Alcoholism has exploded.
“Nicest Foreign Exchange Student”
The trope of the fun foreign exchange student has been around for a while and it may help to think of the Momotaro as the equivalent of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. An import named after a popular hero of Japanese folklore, the Momotaro is fairly unassuming yet delivers a fresh, sweet taste with just the right amount of acidity. It may not speak your language fluently, but “yum” translates to just about every nation around.
“Least Offensive to Anybody”
You know those kids that are somehow editor of the school paper, star of the musical, secretary of Student Council, and still have a 4.0 and volunteer with sick kids every weekend? Those are the red grapes (don't call 'em cherries). They may be small, but they're mighty and everyone – kids, teachers, administrators – loves them dearly. Nobody can say a bad word about Red Grapes. When Red Grapes aren't around, things just feel less cohesive.
“Most Likely to Start a Weed Dispensary”
Dude. Sun Golds are, like, sooooo dope. Mellow flavor. Mellow color. Mellow texture. They're not trying too hard and if you can't find them, it's probably best to check the woods behind the tennis courts because it's pretty likely that they're back there smoking weed. It's all good, Sun Golds. You guys just chill and do your thing.
More Tomato Week on Food Republic: