1884: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2006

Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2006

1884 TomatoHmm… Did you ever get the feeling that maybe the plant you got from a mail order place is not the plant you ordered? I am getting the feeling with this one. Supposedly, this is an 1884 tomato, but it in no way, shape or imagined reality matches the description.

The description from the company I bought it from reads:

A superbly flavored old-time tomato which grows on a strong vigorous plant and produces big luscious 2 lb. deep dark pink fruit with a classic, luxurious flavor and sets fruit readily in hot weather. It is said that the original seeds were discovered in 1884 by a Mr. Williamson in the debris after the big flood in Friendly, West Virginia. This grand fruit has taken top mention year after year in tomato tastings all over the country. Easy to grow and very productive.

The Beauty Pageant:
1884 Tomato Sliced

Size: The description says that this is a hefty 2 pound tomato. The tomato from the picture is pretty typical of the tomatoes that have come of this plant. As you can see, that ain’t a 2 pound tomato, it isn’t even a 1 pound tomato.

It weighs in about the same size as a store bought tomato.

Shape: Perfect baseball shape, which is another thing that makes me wonder if I got the right plant. While a typical 1884 tomato is not a misshapen monstrosity, it is not a store shelf debutante. But the tomatoes from my garden look like the tomato version of a homecoming queen.

The inside: It has seeds but not as many as you would expect for a tomato this size. The gelatin is very loose, so it is very juicy. Decently thick walls.

Texture: Just a little mealy. Not a lot, but it is there.


Off the Vine Tasting: A bite starts watered down, intensifies in sweetness to a nice level and then leaves a slight undesirable bitter aftertaste. Not very noticeable but still there. The skin carries a really tart taste, that I like, but some people may not.

Sliced and Salted Tasting: Wow! Salt really intesifies the flavor of this tomato. The aftertaste disappears, the skin is no longer a factor and you are left with a really sweet tomato taste.

Cooking Thoughts: I would be apt to use this for sauces. The size is convenient for salsa and bruschetta but the slight mealiness of the tomato makes me think I can do better for raw tomato recipes.

Growing Notes:
Average size plant. Pretty average production as far as I can see. Plant is healthy

Will Hanna grow this one again:
No. If this is really an 1884 tomato, I am not at all impressed. Better than a tomato from the store, but, salted, it is on par with a Better Boy. Better Boy is a pretty good standard tomato, but it is a standard tomato. I can get it from my local, big box store, so why would I go out of my way to get an heirloom when the new and improved of the everybody has it tomato world will do just the same?

2 thoughts on “1884: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2006
  1. Was just online trying to find some unique plants for the garden and ran across your site. I have appreciated reading your descriptions. Since I don’t have roon to try 26 varieties in one season I will be using your insights to prioritize the order. A three month growing season is a long time to devote to a plant that gives average or inferior fruit. Thank you for saving me from repeating your bad tomato experiences. 😉


  2. Pingback: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2006

  3. Emily on

    This tomato looks very similar to the “pink tomatoes” sold by one of my favourite farmers’market vendors. Right down to the slight mealiness. He’s an old timer who saves seed, and there is a chance that the original seeds came from Michigan. I agree with you that it doesn’t resemble the 1884 tomatoes, but now my curiosity has been refreshed.

    Good luck finding the perfect tomato, but above all, enjoy the search!


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