This tomato was developed by M.C. “Charlie” Byles of Logan, West Virgina in the 1930s. Charlie owned a radiator repair shop and had no plant breeding experience before or since. Charlie grew 10 tomatoes and grew them around one German Johnson tomato. He cross-pollinated the tomatos by hand for seven years until he had a tomato with the qualities he wanted that would grow true to seed. After seven years, he was able to pay off the $6000 mortgage on his home from sales of his tomato, which gave it its name.
This large beefsteak tomato is very meaty with few seeds and low acidity.
Even though it is a very productive tomato, it’s not commonly grown, perhaps because it does crack. But its uniquely American story has helped to keep the strain alive, and it is available through a number of seed companies.
Image courtesy of Slow Foods USA