What's Tomato With You?
Demonstrating his love of bad pun titles, Karl offered this Educating Ricky segment in order to enrich Ricky and Steve's knowledge of dining "ages ago" in "Briatin and that." Karl claimed that "they" thought tomatoes were poisonous because "they" ate off of lead plates. As a result, after cutting a tomato the acidic juice would make the lead "runny" and would thereby deposit lead into the tomato and poison those eating it. Ricky and Steve felt particularly uneducated after Karl's story, suggesting the moral might be something as pointless as "don't mix lead with tomatoes," or "don't believe these people I've never heard of before." Karl saw educational value in the story because it was a bit weird.
Ricky and Steve could probably have been swayed with a few additional facts. It is known that acidic foods can leech lead out of plates they come into contact with for extended periods of time, and both traditional and contemporary pottery contain various concentrations of lead. It has been suggested that tomato 'poisoning' would not have been known among the poor because, unlike the rich, they would have used wooden plates. In addition, attitudes about the tomato in "Britain and that" were probably influenced by the writings of John Gerard, who believed them to be poisonous.