I saw this question and it got me thinking about a short story I read a while ago (the anthology was an old one pre 1980s). It involved a scientist living somewhere in south America with a deposed dictator and flunkies. They all were really desperate for red meat so the scientist created an artificial tomato that tasted like meat and fed it to them. Plot twist, the tomatoes were injected with snake blood, his research was used to make it so that people who ate the plants turned into some weird slime mold like things.

He had a daughter who he did not let eat the tomatoes as he wanted her spared. The scientist consumed the tomatoes, I think he saw it as a penance for past actions he did for the dictator.

1 Answer 1


This is the 1939 story "The Ultimate Catalyst" by John Taine. You can read its original magazine publication here.

The "tomatoes" were called "greenbeefos" in the story.

This quote should suffice to prove that it's the story you seek.

"Why are you injecting snake blood into the unripe meat-fruit?"

  • 2
    Greenbeefos! I remember this one! And the dictator's 24k gold dinnerware embossed with machine guns.
    – Lexible
    Jun 12, 2023 at 15:13
  • 2
    @Lexible I remembered the story because of the horrifying snake blood thing. I only skimmed it to find a quote for the answer, but my impression is that it probably doesn't hold up too well. Jun 12, 2023 at 15:50
  • 3
    It's not a duolicate but this story was my rejected answer to this old quesion: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/246609/…
    – user14111
    Jun 12, 2023 at 16:50
  • 7
    "John Taine" by the way was Eric Temple Bell, a prominent mathematician of the early 20th century (remembered for Bell numbers & Bell polynomials) and author or pop math books (Men of Mathematics, Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science, etc.).
    – user14111
    Jun 12, 2023 at 16:58
  • 4
    With stories like this, "does not hold up well" is part of the appeal. Thanks for the archive link. Jun 12, 2023 at 21:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.