About 2,000 plump red tomatoes were strategically placed around Boston around 4:30 a.m., as part of a marketing ploy by Muir Glen to promote their organic canned tomatoes, and needless to say the stunt caused a stir today with scores of food lovers asking, "Are these tomatoes being wasted?"
But a spokeswoman for Muir Glen said no, because at the end of the day employees will collect the salvageable fruits (yes, fruits), and hand them over to The Pine Street Inn, a local housing and outreach center that lends a hand to Boston's homeless population.
"We've had some input on the social media front, where people are wondering what we were going to do with the tomatoes, and if they were really going to waste. The salvageable ones left over will be used," said Shannon Daily, a Muir Glen marketing director.
[View the story "I say tomato, you say "what a waste!"" on Storify]
The idea of the so-called "tomato invasion" is to spread the word that Bostonians don't have to settle for the out-of-season tomatoes they will find in their produce aisle throughout the fall and winter months - they can buy the company's canned organic tomatoes, which Daily said are picked at their peak.
"They are picked at the height of their flavor and then canned, so people don't need to settle for the out-of-season tomatoes," she said, adding that the tomatoes out and about in Boston today are not from Muir Glen, but were purchased from a restaurant supply company.
A team of ten Muir Glen employees woke before dawn to scatter the tomatoes around the Back Bay, Copley, Boston Common, Columbus Park and Paul Revere Park.
"It was a quick and dirty set up. We did it so people on their way to work would be able to get the message in bright and early," Daily said.
Outside the social media sphere - that is, out in today's sunshine - Bostonians have been reportedly been receptive to the tomato invasion.
"Some people have been picking them up and looking at them, then putting them back down. Some have eaten them, and some have taken them with them," Daily said.
So far, the city'srapscallions have resisted the temptation to throw, squash, or otherwise vandalize the tomatoes. Some Muir Glen employees are stationed at the sights to keep an eye on the situation, just in case.
"We were prepared for that, but people have been really respectful," Daily said. "It's refreshing actually. It's nice that people seem to be excited and engaged."
The company is donating 3,000 canned goods to Boston CANshare, the city's annual food drive, Daily said: "Hopefully the Muir Glen impact will be broader than the tomato invasion."