I came across a photo of a new idea in tomato picking, circa 1943. It was during World War II and labor was in short supply in New Jersey, which was then the central location for Campbell's Soup production.
Apparently the practice up to that time was to walk down rows of tomatoes, hand-picking them. But because so many men were in the military, there weren't enough to provide this kind of labor.
So a Pennsylvania farmer invented a contraption in which six laborers lay in canvas hammocks underneath a long "bridge" connecting four wheels. The men's heads were held up by baseball masks attached to the overhead platform.
The story said the laborers "worked fast and comfortably" and picked 190 tons of tomatoes for one New Jersey farmer. The machine could cover one mile in 13 hours.
After the tomatoes were picked, there also wasn't enough labor to unload them at the processing plant, so soldiers from a nearby military camp volunteered to do the job.
Because the horizontal laborers on the harvesting machine literally had their noses in the tomato vines, they may have lost their appetite for anything made from tomatoes!
Above is a photo taken last year during our own local tomato harvest using the latest in tomato harvesting machines. This year's Dixon tomato harvest is in full swing.