History of the Pincushion
Before we dive into the tomato-shaped design, let’s take a look at the history of the pincushion. They’ve been around since the Middle Ages (but back then, they went by different names, like a pin-poppet, or a pyn pillow). As you probably guessed, the pincushion was created as a practical storage solution for pins and needles. They also had another purpose: these cushions were a way to display collections of pins and needles. Back then, these sewing tools were quite pricy, so people proudly flaunted their collections to showcase their riches.
Why a Tomato?
Like today, the first pincushions were made in a variety of designs, including boxes, animals, and even dolls. While they were useful, they seemed to be lacking… until someone decided to invent the classic tomato-shaped pincushion.
Back in Victorian ages, people were quite superstitious. It was believed that setting a tomato on the mantle of a new home would keep evil spirits away and bring those who lived in the house luck and prosperity. Of course, tomatoes weren’t always in season and you couldn’t just pick up a tomato at your local grocery store. So, people got creative and decided to craft their own tomatoes out of red material stuffed with sawdust to cast away the evil spirits, even when the real fruit couldn’t be found.