It started last summer, when they bought fresh tomatoes from the grocery store. They were perfectly nice tomatoes, but after a while they started to notice something odd. The tomatoes started to develop strange bumps. What's more, the tomatoes themselves did not deteriorate as normal tomatoes do when they're not refrigerated. These looked bright red and shiny, with no sign of decay or wilting. The letter to the editor they sent me reported the same phenomenon; the tomato was put on a counter to ripen, but it seemed almost to have an "anti-aging" characteristic and ripened very slowly. Also
I noticed that the tomato had multiple little "pimple-like" bumps on its surface. Some of the bumps seemed to have a "tail-like" appendage which "travelled" under the skin surface of the tomato.
When my aunts finally cut open the tomato, they found that the seeds inside had actually sprouted and the inside of the tomato was a mass of sprouts! It was really disgusting - rather like the creature in "Alien" germinating inside the guy's stomach then bursting out.
They tried scooping out the mess inside and just eating the shell of the tomato (which still looked very shiny and appetizing) but Auntie said the tomato didn't taste like a tomato at all: it tasted like HAY.
This has happened to a couple of tomatoes they've bought recently, and when they brought the tomatoes back to the grocery store the people there were baffled. These aren't some rare variety, and they must have bought them from regular suppliers, but they're complete mutant tomatoes. I wonder if this might not be a case of genetic engineering, which we've been hearing so much about. The tomatoes do have a characteristic that would make them desirable: they're much less perishable than standard tomatoes. I can see why someone might want to breed for that trait, but this side effect is just bizarre (not to mention the tomatoes LOOK good but taste terrible)!
I've found very little online about this. A year ago there were a few posts on gardening boards from people who experienced the same thing, but it seems to be a rather rare occurrence (not for my Aunts, though; it's happened a few times to them). Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
UPDATE: I've tried to find more information on this sprouting tomato phenomenon, and I did find this plus a few other discussions on gardening boards. Opinion is divided on whether it's a question of genetics or chemical additive. Some say it's normal for seeds to germinate inside tomatoes, others say it should be impossible. But I can't help but notice that all of the incidents being discussed are recent - within the past 4 years, it seems. Surely, if this is normal behavior, people should be able to point to older incidents? I mean, think of the decades and decades of tomato-growing history that we can look back on, just in our own lifetimes; why wouldn't there be anecdotal evidence going back a century on this?