Ark of Taste
Salzer's Ferris Wheel Tomato
Released by the John A. Salzer Seed Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1894, this intensely flavored tomato was once prized for its uniquely large size. From the 1895 Salzer Seed Company Catalog, “This monster, this leviathan, this giant, measures almost 2 feet in circumference. We studied for an appropriate name and finally concluded to name it Ferris Wheel Tomato, in honor of one of the greatest inventions of the age. This Tomato possesses every good quality to be found in a Tomato. The vines are strong and vigorous, and easily bear their enormous weight of fruit, and when we come to giant size, weight, solidity, no other Tomato begins to approach it.” Despite this colorful description, Salzer’s Ferris Wheel Tomato was dropped from the catalog in the 1940s due to competition from new varieties.
This variety was essentially extinct until Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes, brought it back by ordering seeds from the USDA collection in 1999. A representative from Victory Seeds reports, “Although none of the fruit we have grown out are true ‘monsters,’ we have harvested ones weighing in at thirty two ounces... but a pound seems to be a typical specimen weight.”
Juicy, slightly sweet, and deliciously complex, Salzer’s Ferris Wheel Tomato shares some similarities with the typical beefsteak tomato, but with a much finer flavor.