Before Ohioan Alexander W. Livingston developed the Paragon Tomato in 1870, most Americans thought of tomatoes as small fruits with a bitter taste. The Paragon was larger and sweeter, leading Livingston to develop more than 30 other varieties of tomatoes. Livingston’s work, along with that of other Ohioans boosted the popularity of the tomato with American gardeners, cooks and diners. Today, Ohio farmers harvest more than 6,000 acres of tomatoes, with the heaviest concentration of tomato farming occurring in the northwestern quarter of the state. Ohio is the nation’s fifth-largest producer of tomatoes. The tomato (Lycopersicon esculentus
) became the official state fruit in 2009.