I know I wrote in my Why grow so many different tomatoes post that I was capping my number of different tomato varieties to 20, but why not just one more? I have to make room for Homely Homer!
Yes this was an impulse buy. I was at the grocery store's garden center looking for some broccoli plants to replace my broccoli that froze to death when Homely Homer caught my eye.
I'm always interested in colorful and unique packaging, like the bottle of Great Big Plants. I'm a sucker for unusual garden marketing as well. To me Homely Homer is in the ranks of the Magic Sproutz Secret Fortune Plants and the Jiffy Kids Seed Cups. The interesting eye-catching part of this tomato plant is the big and funny tag.
The genius in this marketing idea is that they are taking the quality of irregular "ugly" ridges, which many people dislike in tomatoes, and actually highlighting it! They then move on to claim excellent flavor. The tag says "Great Taste - Being Ugly is only skin deep!" and "You won't care what it looks like, you'll just love the way it tastes".
So what exactly is this tomato? This plant came from Bert R. Hybels Inc., which is a bedding plant wholesaler in Michigan. Their website makes no mention of Homely Homer. Researching in my garden books and on the Internet turns up no such tomato cultivar. In that case, Homely Homer must just be the marketing name and the variety is something else. But what?
The tag calls it an indeterminate Beefsteak with exceptional flavor, and of course they call it ugly. The only thing I can figure is that it is an UglyRipe Heirloom tomato. Maybe they don't want to call it UglyRipe because of the controversy over the Florida Tomato Committee banning it in Florida. If you haven't heard about this and want to know more, this article explains it.
I found this picture of an UglyRipe Tomato on DoItYourself.com
It looks like Homely Homer, don't you think? The article that this is from on DoItYourself.com goes into even more detail about the Florida Tomato Committee's ban. To sum it up, the committee won't allow the sale of Florida Ugly Ripe Tomatoes to the rest of the states because they want all Florida tomatoes to look nice and round. The opponents to this ruling say that the "nice looking" Florida winter tomatoes have no taste but Ugly Ripes do! This article even calls for you to write to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and congress to re-instate the winter UglyRipe Tomato.
If my Homely Homer is indeed an UglyRipe, I will let you know in August if the flavor is good enough to demand such action. The thought of actually being able to buy a tomato that tastes like a tomato in January is quite appealing. But just in case UglyRipe is not available this winter, I plan on consuming hundreds, maybe thousands of tomatoes from
twenty twenty-one different varieties this summer and fall from my own backyard garden!