Human Ketchup: The World’s Largest Tomato Fight

‘Here in Buñol we have never liked bulls. A bull’s horns can hurt you, but a tomato never does you any harm,”- anonymous

tomatina bunolImage by Aaron Corey

Every summer the Spanish town of Buñol witnesses lumpy red carnage in the format of a massive drunken food fight, where approximately one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are hurled between tourists and villagers.

The event is the culmination of a week long booze fest, named the ‘Tomatina’ and takes place on the last Wednesday of August beginning at around 10AM and ending at around 1pm. The rules are simple. Number one: smash a tomato into the nearest human’s face. Number two: don’t be naked whilst you do this. Number three: wear eye protection, and last but not least you have to stop throwing tomatoes after the final gunshot is fired – this signals the end of the festival.

Although this may seem violent, weird or wasteful – it’s actually not. The tomatoes, which are too ripe to be sold for eating purposes are bought for the festival and before being thrown they are squashed by the participants to avoid painful bruising caused by the oversized hard veg.

Having said this, there are still some minor injuries, the most serious of which occurred in 2002 when a woman slipped off the back of a truck and broke her leg. Apart from this, no major injuries or fatalities have occurred.

If anything, the most painful part of the festival is not the speeding tomatoes, but the huge acidic stench that they create during the fight, and of course, the town’s cleaning bill.