Don’t always believe the marketing hype – even if it’s your own PR campaign!

Having announced a £1,000 prize for the heaviest Gigantomo Tomato brought to The Harrogate Autumn Show, Van Meuwen PR officer Kris Collins quietly went about raising his own plants aiming to achieve a whopper.

The initial marketing campaign featured a true photograph of a giant fruit grown in the US, some 30cm in diameter. Despite thinning the fruits to encourage giant produce and using a secret homemade fertiliser, Kris’s Gigantomos just didn’t live up to the poster campaign. Assessing the weights amongst his final harvest, he didn’t think he stood a chance against seasoned giant veg growers. “Faced with two large tomatoes I decided to make a bolognese with one and a fresh tomato salad with the other rather than pit them against the giant veg growing fraternity.” Said Kris.

His largest fruit weighed in at 4lb3oz (1.95kg), and while he said it made the perfect base for a bolognese sauce, you can image his shock come Harrogate weigh in day to find the winning fruit came in at just 3lb8oz (1.75kg).

“When we heard the weight of the winning fruit, I apparently went a little pale in the face as it dawned on me that I had treated my family to the most expensive pasta dish on the planet! If I had kept the fruit for exhibition I could have treated them to a nice holiday instead of a simple home cooked meal. I was expecting to see tomatoes the size of footballs not baseballs!”

Van Meuwen General Manager, Chris Wright, said he was happy to award the £1,000 prize money to Joe Atherton of Mansfield Woodhouse, Notts, as weather conditions had not been ideal for tomato growers this season. To have a fully ripe tomato, let alone a giant, was an impressive result. He said: “Sadly weather conditions have prevented growers from meeting the true potential of this fantastic giant tomato, but if this is what can be produced in a cool season, imagine what can be done in a hot summer. Gigantomo truly has the potential to create a world record breaker and we hope to see growers trying again next year in order to bring the world record for the heaviest tomato to UK shores.”

Chris also says that what Gigantomo lacks in appearance is made up for in flavour: “Most other large varieties lack taste and texture. Gigantomo might not always make the prettiest tomatoes, but independent taste tests prove it holds its flavour whatever the size or shape of the fruit. It also has a high flesh content with little juice or seeds, making it perfect for a wide variety of uses – you can feed a whole family with just one tomato!”

As for the other Kris, he says this isn’t the end of his giant veg growing venture: “I’ll be back next year, a little wiser and a little more eager to take home a prize. I won’t be eating bolognese for a while though - it will just leave a bad taste in my mouth!”