Smtih County had a different kind of bootlegging problem during the prohibition years. But the Feds didn't care about. Never gave a thought to putting Eliot Ness on the case. So the Smith County boys came up with their own plan.
Here's how The Tyler Telegraph told the tale in 1930...
Tyler, Jan. 27 ---- Bootlegging tomato "culls." which got to be a common practice during the 1929 season in June and July, will be a thing of the past this season, if present plans of growers are executed.
The most unscrupulous farmers and peddlers worked the "bootlegging racket" last year to the havoc of the East Texas grower and at one time almost ruined the market.
Growers this year plan to saturate every cull and faulty tomato with kerosene to make them unfit for any marketing whatever, and in this manner expect to save thousands of dollars which otherwise goes to the "tomato bootlegger."
Growers and other agricultural workers have racked their brains for many seasons trying to devise means whereby the practice of bootlegging cull tomatoes, selling them on the outside markets in competition with the Grade-A product, might be ended, but no solution has been obtained.
The growers this year have organized and agreed to hire a reliable man at each packing shed who will saturate the culls with oil so that the bootlegger will have no inducement to load them on trucks and sell in market centers.
Last year truck after truck was loaded with culls and then later thrown on the market as Grade-A Smith county tomatoes. The culls were found in great quantities where they had been thrown away around the packing sheds or left piled in fields.
Most of the bootleggers did their loading after midnight, and the best culls were packed by unscrupulous produce men in the market centers and represented and sold in competition with class A tomatoes, working a serious hardship on the market and for a time ran the price per bushel to almost a minimum.
A&M experts were appealed to last year, being asked if throwing the culls back on the land would be of any benefit as fertilizer. It was stated that the value of culls for this purpose was negligible and could offer no solution.
So it has remained for the growers themselves to agree to hire a man who will ruin the culls with kerosene.