Although the plant originated in Mexico, it would take a Reynoldsburg citizen to develop a way of growing these red fruits in a way that made sense commercially, to grow, harvest and pack tomatoes. Before developing his tomatoes, the 29 year old Alexander Livingston purchased the Buckeye Garden Seed Company in 1850 from Robert Robertson who was moving away from the area.
In 1870, Alexander Livingston began growing tomatoes commercially. He even developed a number of new tomato species with the first being the Paragon Tomato. Alexander Livingston and his Matilda raised 10 children. Besides working on his beloved tomatoes, he also taught Sunday school at the Ohio State Penitentiary.
The tomato was once thought to be poisonous. After all it is such a beautiful fruit, and so juicy, it had to have some draw backs. Although it was a cultured fruit in Central America for a long time, it wasn't until some of the seeds were brought back from the Americas and planted and eaten by the Italians that acceptance of the fruit gained much steam.
Move forward about 100 years, and the city of Reynoldsburg wants to honor it's native son and his creation. The Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival is created and about the same time the Ohio General Assembly made tomato juice the official beverage. And, not for good reason.
In 1965, Ohio is the 2nd largest tomato juice producing state in the nation, with only California producing more. Today, processing plants in Ohio produce over 150,000 tons of processed tomatoes.