History and Development of Burpee’s Big Boy Tomato

Burpee TomatoesI joined Burpee in 1954 and worked during the summer months with Jonathan Burpee harvesting Big Boy in a field near what is now Delaware Valley University (Del Val). Two men, Ovid Schifries, PHD and a geneticist, and Ted Torrey, farm manager and plant breeder working at Fordhook Farms in Doylestown, PA, developed Big Boy. They crossed a popular home garden variety with a large male tomato. They grew out the plants, made some selections, grew out and made more selections and then harvested the tomato. Then they grew them out again to make sure that the cross was fixed and “Big Boy” was born! The name, Big Boy, was used when Ovid Schifries said, “Let’s name it Big Boy for Jonathan, who was big for his age.”

Big Boy started a revolution in hybrid tomato development. Big Boy was a big hit and continues to be popular with home gardeners.

— Joe LaTorre

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