Neural network-named tomatoes you won’t find at the farmer’s market
3 min read

Neural network-named tomatoes you won’t find at the farmer’s market

Neural network-named tomatoes you won’t find at the farmer’s market

As gardeners know, a tomato is not just a tomato. They come in all shapes, sizes, and especially colors, from tiny red gems to big and purplish brown to pear-shaped with zebra stripes. And their tastes and textures vary wildly as well, with some sweet and soft, some tough-skinned and tart, and some dense and destined for processing.

These varieties all have names, of course, and good names are at a premium. Darren Abbey, who runs the blog The Biologist Is In, breeds new tomatoes and needs to name them from time to time. He gave me a list of 11,629 existing names, ranging from the highly experimental (Rts-119) to the classic (Sungold).

I used these names to train a recurrent neural network, which is a kind of algorithm that learns patterns that let it imitate the data it sees. Could it learn to produce plausible tomato names?

Yes, as it turns out! On Darren’s blog post you can read his expert opinion, but the verdict is: these are totally usable names.

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Floranta
Sweet Lightning
Speckled Boy
Flavelle
Pinkery Plum
Market Days
Fancy Bell
Mountain Gem
Garden Sunrise
Honey Basket
Cold Brandy
Sun Heart
Flaminga
Sunberry
Special Baby
Golden Pow

However, not ALL the names were plausible. These are a lot weirder.

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Birdabee
Sandwoot
Shampy
Bear Plum
The Bango
Grannywine
Sun Burger
Bungersine
First No.4
Smoll Pineapple
The Ball
Golden Cherry Striped Rock
Eggs
Old German Baby
Frankster Black
Bumbertime
Ranny Blue Ribber
Adoly Pepp Of The Wonder
Cherry, End Students
Small Of The Elf
Champ German Ponder
Pearly Pemper
Green Zebra Pleaser
Flute First

These *seem* weird, but they aren’t actually all that weird for tomato names. There are at least 50 oxheart tomatoes in the original dataset.

Matt’s Sandwich
Indigo Tree
Sun Burger
Striped Hollow Potato Leaf
Lelly’s Yellow Stuffers
Terra Pink Strain
Greek Boar
Ton’s Oxheart
Babla’s German Paste
Mortgage Lifter, Honey Blues

These however? These tomatoes don’t sound promising.

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Speckled Garfech
Green Dork
Cluster Gall
Shirve’s Gigant Bullburk
True Grub
Black Crape
Caraball
Roma Wasting Star
Scar Giant
Bug Beauty
Banana Placente
Bananana
Stoner
Speckled Bake
Ruck
Green Boor
Wonder Bagg
Sun Bung
Bellende
Bolosavyi Scarling West Colon
Panterosa
San Blue Tard
Red Krap
Shart Delight
Solad Piss

For more in-depth analysis of these names, check out Darren’s blog.

I also trained a neural net on fruit names earlier - read the results here.

And this post’s bonus content is well worth checking out, because not only does it contain many more tomato names, but I also tried an experiment where I trained a neural net first on tomato names, and then on the names of metal bands. The results were glorious, including such wonders as:

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Angels of Saucing
Serpent Green
Market Death
Sweet Sever
Devil Potato Large Death

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