Tomato Ketchup Was Once Used as Medicine! Do You Know?

Imagine you are experiencing indigestion or suffering from cholera and someone advises you to have ketchup to get rid of your pain. Will you believe them?? Of course not, nobody will. It sounds insane, right?

You know what, you might find it crazy but around the mid-1830s, people actually used to take tomato ketchup as medicine. Now, before I tell you more about this topic, let me give you a quick introduction to the history of tomatoes.

More than 200 years ago, tomatoes were actually considered to be poisonous, belonging to a deadly nightshade family. They were only used as ornamental plants. People back then had no idea what a gem they were missing out on.


Tomato Sauce As Medicine

Whenever we hear the word ‘sauce’, the very first thing that comes to our mind is tomato. But you know what people in the 1800’s didn’t have any idea that tomatoes could be consumed, let alone, to make sauce.

It all started in 1834 when an Ohio physician named Dr John Cook Bennett, came up with a recipe for tomato sauce, claiming that it can cure various illness. He claimed that he had done research on it and concluded that this sauce can cure indigestion, cholera, stomach ache, rheumatism. In a span of few days, he was able to attract peoples’ attention and he even started publishing his recipes in the newspaper.

This news soon caught the attention of an entrepreneur named Archibald Mile. He saw this ongoing hype as an opportunity to turn it into a profit-making business. Along with Bennet, he started to sell tomato sauce in the form of pills, to make it look more like a legitimate medicine in the market. Surprisingly, new of several people claiming that they were actually cured after consuming the tomato pill, hit the newspaper. A claim made by a quack was ruling the medicine market.

End of the Tomato Medicine Hype

As you know, popularity gives birth to imitators and competitors. Many other businessmen jumped to get rich off of this quick scheme. They started to produce their own tomato pills. They not only made tomato pills but they even made crazy claims that their pill is more effective than Bennett’s medicine. Some even announced that their pills could cure scurvy and mend broken bones!

These kind of extraordinary claims were obviously not an easy pill to swallow and it made the scientists and other doctors more and more curious. They started researching more on the healing properties of tomatoes and digging deep into the claims made by Bennett. Soon enough they found out that all the claims made by Bennett and Miles were nothing but a hoax. As people came to know about the fake tomato pills and their so-called healing properties, Bennet and Miles’ sales started to plummet.  Slowly, the tomato hype died down and by the 1850s, these pills became non-existent.

Although the craze of tomato pills as medicine disappeared, the taste of sweet and sour ketchup captured the hearts of people and from then, people started enjoying ketchup as a condiment.

Starting from sandwiches, burgers to pasta, pizzas and many other dishes, people around the world can’t imagine having them without tomato ketchup.


In 1834, an Ohio physician named Dr John Cook Bennett came up with the idea of using tomatoes for making sauce. He claimed that the sauce made using tomatoes could cure ailments like diarrhoea, cholera, indigestion etc. Around the same time, an entrepreneur named Archibald Miles teamed up with the doctor and started selling tomato ketchup in form of tomato pills, to make it look more legitimate in eyes of people as medicine.

Eventually, other businessmen also started making tomato pills and extraordinary claims regarding its benefits. After researching more on the healing properties of tomatoes, scientists came up with the conclusion that all the claims made by Bennett and Miles were nothing more than a hoax. Soon after this, all the hype of tomato medicine died and by the 1850s, it became totally non-existent. However, the wonderful savoury taste of tomato sauce did not leave the people and soon enough, they started using it as a condiment.

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