In the U. S. before 1800 witches were practically the only people who ate tomatoes, which everybody thought were poisonous. Indians in Mexico were found munching them as early as the 16th Century. The French prescribed them as a highly effective love potion.
Thomas Jefferson had some on his Virginia farm in 1781, dared to use them in sauces and soups. But a woman born in Trenton, N. J. as late as 1833 reported that when as a child she ate a tomato, her parents rushed her to the doctor, certain she would die.
Not until 1835 did the editor of the Maine Farmer report that tomatoes had been cultivated in Maine gardens "and should be found on every man's table."
And the road that led to V-8 juice was a strange one indeed:
Before 1928 tomato juice was used chiefly for invalids and babies who needed its vitamins. Packers did not produce enough to warrant keeping separate figures.
... Last year as tomato juice took its place on nearly every restaurant menu in the land, output was estimated at 5,000.000 cases, worth $8,500.000. The rise in tomato juice sales has been the most spectacular of any food industry during the Depression.
The man who put spiced tomato juice cocktail on the market was Ernest Byfield, Chicago's most famed hotelkeeper.