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Mueller is hoping to speed that shift by releasing unpatented lines of tomatoes such as the Gary O'Sena (a pink-purple fruit) and the Dora (a pink-red fruit with a green top), both of which he created by crossbreeding Brandywine and Cherokee Purple.
"I give up direct control, but then people see that I have good stuff," he explains. It's the equivalent of a supermarket handing out free samples. In time, he expects to begin trademarking plants like Scott's Tasti-Lee and working directly with growers to promote them. Tomatoes are the new superheroes of the produce market, and customers are clamoring for an origin story. Mueller sees that story waiting in every seed bank.
"We have all of these different pigments and unique traits sitting on a shelf from the past 70 years," he says. "I say, let's do something with those seeds. They're not just for tomato nerds. We can find some great new flavor."