Considering their size and how easily they could be gripped, it made sense that tomatoes would eventually make it to the main stage. The first reference to throwing these rotten vegetables at bad stage acts came in an 1883 New York Times article after John Ritchie was hit with a barrage of tomatoes and rotten eggs by an unpleasant audience in New York. " large tomato thrown from the gallery struck him square between the eyes and he fell to the stage floor just as several bad eggs dropped upon his head."
Obviously, tomato throwing stands as a form of audience participation that's unacceptable by modern standards. But social norms throughout history meant audiences could convey their opinions, whether good or bad. Today, theater-goers typically sit quietly as if watching a movie, but before other forms of entertainment were available a rowdy crowd chanted, booed and -- occasionally -- threw rotten produce.
Learn about the biggest food fight in the world on the next page.