Heartwarming tale of a boy who grew up to have the last laugh, and get rich off the experience as well.  

If you’ve ever learnt a second language, you’ll know how daunting it can be to have to use that language in front of your fellow students, especially when you’re an impressionable teenager where the thought of being teased for your mistakes can be particularly mortifying.

That’s what happened to Japanese Twitter user @pasmal0220, who was once teased for pronouncing “tomato” with an American accent during English class at junior high school.

In Japanese, the word “tomato” is written as “トマト”, which reads as “to-ma-to” and sounds similar to the way it’s pronounced in British-English. Despite American-English being predominantly taught in Japanese schools, students tend to avoid pronouncing “tomato” as “トメイトゥ” (“to-mei-to”), like an American, as it sounds incredibly odd to Japanese ears.

Over in America, of course, nobody would laugh at anyone for saying “tomeito”, so it’s sad to think that this schoolboy’s perfectly normal American pronunciation was met with ridicule.

However, in a twist befitting the origin story of a superhero, there’s no reason to feel sad for that young student anymore, because he’s now all grown up, and enjoying the taste of sweet revenge as a successful tomato — ahem, tomeito farmer at the award-winning Soga Farm in Niigata Prefecture.

The tweet above reads:

“When I was a junior high school student, I was laughed at when I called a “tomato” a “tomeito” during English class. To put an end to the residual trauma I have over this, we changed our brand name to “Tomeito” from this year. After doing that, customers now shyly say “tomeitos please”, which has given our store a lovely warmth. I think it’d be great if tomatoes could become “tomeitos” throughout Japan from now on.” 

The tweet quickly went viral, receiving upwards of 33,000 retweets and 112,000 likes, and comments like:

“I’ve been laughed at for saying the same thing!”
Katakana English should be abolished!”
“What a great story – thank you so much for sharing!”
“These tomeitos look delicious!”
“I also want to call them tomeitos!”
“Next time I’m in Niigata, I’m definitely going to buy your tomeitos!”

It’s nice to see @pasmal0220 turn a traumatic experience into a positive one, while also giving hope to others who may have found themselves in a similar situation. If the best revenge is living well, that’s certainly what this farmer is doing, as the tomatoes produced by Soga Farm recently won first prize at the Vegetable Sommelier Summit, and their tomato juice won gold at Japan Food Selection. And he has his wife by his side for the journey as well.

“I set up Soga Farm together with my wife to make customers smile through tomeitos.”

The happy couple really has brought smiles to the faces of people through their tomeitos. It just goes to show that a language slip-up can become a life-changing moment for the better, as long as you can get over pronunciation anxiety and accept your language skills, mistakes and all.

Related: Soga Farm
Source: Twitter/@pasmal0220 via Hachima Kikou

Featured image: Twitter/@pasmal0220
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