Whatever Happened to the Jersey Tomato?

Posted on 19 May 2009


Growing up in South Philadelphia during the Great Depression, I enjoyed nothing more than a Jersey Tomato, in a salad or on a sandwich or cooked, it was delicious.  The climate and soil of South Jersey was the birthplace of this wonderful fruit.  When they were harvested, they were hand picked and sent to market.


As time went on, technology demanded a tomato that could be harvested by machines. Campbell Soup Company of New Jersey asked Rutgers University to develop a tomato that could be harvested by machines. Rutgers developed a seed that would produce a tough skinned tomato suitable for machines to pick without damaging the fruit, Campbell Soup Company then contracted Jersey farmers to plant the hybrid seeds. This new tomato tolled the death knell for that once delicious fruit.


As years went by, the people who remember this wonderful fruit started seeking the seeds of the original to plant.  As the Pennsylvania Dutch say, “you don’t know what good is!”  Their efforts helped bring about a resurgence for this wonderful fruit.  So, back by popular demand, the Jersey Tomato has reclaimed its fame. Voila!


Back by Popular Demand!
The Ramapo Tomato was developed at Rutgers NJAES in 1968 by Dr. Bernard Pollack. Many years ago it disappeared from seed catalogues. Seed companies were favoring varieties that produced higher yields for commercial growers. Despite its disappearance, Rutgers continued to receive many requests for this tasty tomato and produced small batches throughout the years. And now, the first commercial lot of organically grown genuine Ramapo F1 hybrid seed is available through an effort by Rutgers NJAES.”

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11 Responses to “Whatever Happened to the Jersey Tomato?”

  1. Melanie says:

    A succinct and entertaining presentation of something about which I had oftened wondered.

  2. Paula says:

    What an informative article!! You learn something new everyday! I really enjoyed it and I love our Jersey tomatoes!!

  3. Karen says:

    Would somebody please come up with a topsy turvy containing the Ramapo hybrid seed so I can once again enjoy the Jersey Tomato. Nice to know that we have Rutgers to thank for them and maybe they will make a comeback.

  4. carole says:

    There used to be a diner that had Jersey tomatoes here in Florida.
    No more diner and no more wonderful Jersey tomatoes.

  5. Free Stuff says:

    Cheers for the fantastic article – I enjoyed reading it! I always love reading your blog. 🙂

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  8. Author says:

    On April 29th 2010 I planted my first topsy turvy “Ramapo” tomatoe seedlings. This is my first venture at growing the tomatoe that made New Jersey famous. The plants were a gift from my neighbor Banjo Joe.

  9. Author says:

    T my readers, Today July 15 2010 I sampled my first ripe Ramapo tomatoe. It was well worth the time and patience growing this fruit. when I first wrote this article, I never thought I would answer my own question,”What ever happened to the Jersey Tomatoe?” but needless to say it was Delicious!

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