Ohio's State Beverage - Tomato Juice
In 1965, the Ohio General Assembly made tomato juice Ohio's official beverage. Adoption of an official beverage coincided with the Tomato Festival held in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. In 1870, Reynoldsburg resident Alexander Livingston began to grow tomatoes commercially. He is famous for developing the Paragon Tomato. The Tomato Festival, which occurs every year, honors Livingston and the tomato's importance to Ohio's economy.
Ohio natives and early white settlers did not grow tomatoes originally. Many people feared that tomatoes were poisonous, but by the 1840s many state residents planted tomatoes in their gardens. By the late 1800s, Ohio farmers began to grow tomatoes commercially. In 1965, Ohio was the second leading producer of tomato juice in the United States, ranking behind only California. Tomato growing and processing remains an important component of Ohio's economy today. In 2002, Ohio farmers harvested 6,300 acres of tomatoes, averaging almost twenty-four tons of tomatoes in each acre. This same year, Ohio processing plants produced 149,630 tons of processed tomatoes. While farmers grow tomatoes across Ohio, the heaviest concentration of tomato farming takes place in the northwestern quadrant of the state.