Friday, December 16, 2011

"Tomatoes Are Not Vegetables" Snowclone

Here is a snowclone almost as popular as "the Eskimos have 50 words for snow":

"Botanically, a tomato is a fruit: a seed-bearing structure that grows from the flowering part of a plant. In 1893, however, the highest court in the land ruled in the case of Nix v. Hedden that the tomato was a vegetable, subject to vegetable import tariffs. Unfortunately, the vegetal confusion did not end in 1893."

Well, yes, the confusion is apparent in the above remark. As noted here before, "vegetable" is a culinary, not a botanical, category. Something can be botanically a fruit, but culinarily a vegetable. Such as tomatoes. Or peppers. Or squash. Or eggplants. Or okra. Or green beans.

Query: Why every single time you see this snowclone, the tomato plays the role of the fruit "mistaken" for a vegetable? You never see anyone trying to look smart by saying "The green bean is not a vegetable, it's a fruit!"

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