Worst Promotion Ever Causes Riot In Union Square As Hipsters Fight For Cash-Wrapped Tomatoes

Cash Tomato, a would-be YouTube! competitor, tried to drum up free advertising by handing out tomatoes wrapped with wads of cash in New York’s Union Square. The event was scheduled to kick-off yesterday at 2:29 p.m. to honor the leap year with giveaways of up to $29. Predictably, a riot ensued as a mob of over 100 overwhelmed the three workers dressed as tomatoes who were holding the cash. Video of the riot, after the jump.

Completely Foreseeable Riot as Cash Thrown at Public in Union Square [Gothamist]
(Photo: M. Roberts/Daily News)


Edit Your Comment

  1. firefruze says:


    That was definately not thought through. Cash Tomato was really lucky no one got badly hurt over this. But then again you would expect people to have more respect for one another and not go nuts over a measly $29.

  2. diddy0071 says:

    Now, imagine if it was $229 dollars. There would be a death on the 6 o’clock news report.

  3. diddy0071 says:

    what a waste of tomatoes…I could have made spaghetti sauce with those!

  4. Yankees368 says:

    It is quite ironic that this video is posted on Youtube.

  5. matto says:

    The next time some jack-hole NYC person tries to snob me for living in SF, I am going to throw him to the ground and beat him with tomatoes.

  6. Arkley says:

    What kind of society have we developed when riots are started over fruit wrapped in pocket change?

    We are going downhill, and this is a large sign.

  7. uberbucket says:

    That’s all it takes to incite a riot, $29 tanking US dollars?

    But it still works as a promotion as you probably would not even have heard about it unless in went all pear-shaped like it did.

  8. harumph says:

    hipsters used to be too cool to do something like this. tsk!

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow, publicity like that? Priceless.

    Manhattan’s way too jaded for such things, tho.

    Next time: $100 bills. Wrapped around hand grenades!

  10. AndyDuncan says:

    Two words: Turkey Drop.

  11. tylerk4 says:

    This qualifies as a riot?

  12. laserjobs says:

    Next time I hope there is alcohol involved to liven it up a bit.

  13. KogeLiz says:

    wow. a trash can fell over.

  14. forgottenpassword says:

    all that for the chance for jut 29 bucks? What?…were they all crackheads?

  15. Whitey Fisk says:

    We love Arthur Fortune!
    He gave us a dollar!

  16. Odwalla says:


    As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

  17. Swifty says:


    Has anyone posted this video on Cash Tomato yet?

  18. crescentia says:

    I guess people in New York are desperate?

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    hahahaha. Hipsters = FAIL

  20. Milstar says:

    I’ve heard of them now. Guess it worked out.

  21. kaitousai says:

    I’d like to see that grenade stunt…

    However, if the cash amount was 100 ish, there likely would’ve been a death and tons more people hurt.

    I never heard of Cash Tomato until now, so perhaps this publicity stunt will get more people to try them out now since this’ll be on the news…

    I like oranges and apples more than tomatoes, they should’ve used that or cash cows…

  22. sebastian_dangerfield says:

    Reminds me of Terry Sothern’s The Magic Christian, where a rich man throws money into a cesspool to watch everyone dive in after it.

  23. cmdr.sass says:

    My self respect is worth a lot more than $29. I guess it goes for much less in New York.

  24. Blueskylaw says:

    It might be worth fighting for €29 Euros, but not Dollars.

  25. homerjay says:

    Yyyyyep! New York is now back to normal.

  26. moore850 says:

    This video should definitely get the $1000 prize on cashtomato. Maybe they could hand out prizes for who can film the best mob scene next time… or wait, that’s exactly what they did this time, never mind.

  27. Upsilon says:

    What can you even buy with $29 in New York? A McDonald’s Hamburger?

  28. parnote says:

    LMAO! In my corner of the world, it worked. Until now, I had never heard of “Cash Tomato.” Success or failure, now at least a lot of other people who have ever heard of “Cash Tomato” know of their existence.

    Still … is $29 really worth it?

  29. timmus says:

    Oh, for crying out loud, this is not fighting over $29… this is dog-eat-dog fighting for a piece of the pile, which was probably more like $10,000.

  30. Parting says:

    Ha! Ha! Sign your promotion failed = it’s posted on YouTube :)

  31. 46and2 says:

    wussy riot. i see 18-20 year old snobby college kids riot much more violently when the christian club stops passing out the free sober up hot dogs and hamburgers at 11 pm. i also imagine a substantially lower amount, but larger scale of promotion would incite a much more desperate and violent riot

  32. yesteryear says:

    @matto: yes, i think i will also use this tactic. also, no self-respecting SF company would call itself “cash tomato” anyway. what, was “scrilla squash” taken?

  33. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Cash Tomato didn’t even stay to help with the clean up.

    Yeah, it’s pretty hard to help clean up when you’re being driven away in an ambulance.

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that the guy video taping this’ only reaction to someone being thrown to the ground was, “Haha, Cash Tomato sucks”?

    It isn’t a real riot if you can stand there and giggle.

  34. tweemo says:

    That video is so much less exciting than the description led me to believe.

  35. ekdikeo says:

    Yeah, I didn’t see anything in there. Looked like some people yelling at each other, and that was it.

  36. spamtasticus says:

    They was laying on top of the man!

  37. consumersaur says:

    Where were the hipsters? I just saw skanks.

  38. Big fuck up

  39. Kounji says:

    Hopefully it was worth it. Sheez

  40. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Can you say ” FUBAR “???

  41. fuzzycuffs says:

    Bunch of savages.

    You know, any one of you could have gotten a JOB that paid more than maybe $29 for the time you spent being total idiots.

  42. timsgm1418 says:

    hey your showing your age and mine (since I get the reference) @Odwalla:

  43. CumaeanSibyl says:

    You know, just ten pounds of $29 tomatoes could add up to a serious chunk of change, depending on the average weight of your tomatoes. A “garbage bag” full of tomatoes could be worth thousands.

    So I don’t think I’d risk serious bodily injury, but if a guy went by me with a stolen bag of money I’d probably make a grab for it. :)

  44. univision says:


    Goes to show you what a wrong idea in the wrong hands will do.

    Side note: Cash Tomato does suck. Their videos take a long time to load and they are choppy.

  45. camille_javal says:

    @timsgm1418: oh hell. that means I’m showing my age, too.

    and, in this case, I could imagine 1) people thought it was more than $29 (the crowd outliers who just knew money was being handed out), and 2) NYU students desperate for weed money.

  46. dogwalker says:

    i need to see the police report. are you sure the guy who is supposedly “reporting on this” isn’t part of cash tomato? is this a straight up joke? i didn’t do any search at all just throwing it out there.

  47. Paulyshoreis.dead says:

    Wow, they get a tiny bit of coverage and their site goes down like a White House intern. Oh sure, they got YouTube quakin’ in their boots I bet. At least they have a future on radio in Cincinnati.

  48. otherdeb says:



    As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    Long live “WKRP in Cincinatti”!

  49. Balisong says:

    Wow, only one person here mentioned what a jackoff the guy in the video was?? I think his comments on the situation are scarier than the “riot.”

  50. yesteryear says:

    yeah the videographer is obviously a shill… with scary chiclet teeth. why did i even watch that video? ugh.

  51. loueloui says:

    @yesteryear: I don’t know if he was a shill or not, but he was definitely a douche.

  52. Xerloq says:

    No such thing as bad publicity. All they’re going to accomplish is getting banned in Iran.

  53. RagingTowers says:

    people will do anything for a couple bucks

  54. KJones says:

    @otherdeb: Booger.

  55. KJones says:

    Here’s a better way it could have been done: Have people with unmarked bags walk around and randomly hand out tomatoes wrapped with a piece of paper advertising the site, plus a $1, $5 or $10 wrapped inside.

    The worst that would happen is tomatoes and paper getting dropped on the street. There wouldn’t have been the mob mentality (thus probably no tomato throwing).

  56. IcarusRisen says:

    That’s a pretty ignorant comment. Frankly, there are some countries where pocket change is enough to get you killed, not roughed up a little bit. Money is important to people, no matter where you’re from. I’m disappointed in America, too, but this is more a symptom of the human condition than it is any sort of demarcation of where American society stands.

  57. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    Maybe This article before the riot spurring people to hand out flyers to homeless people had something to do with the madness that ensued.


  58. unleashed says:

    It worked. I went to their site and that’s the goal right?

  59. john_nyc says:

    What’s with using Union Square as a venue for ill-concieved publicity stunts?

    I remember a few years ago Snapple try to hawk its popsicles by suspending a gigantic one from a crane, or something stupid like that.

    Of course they did it on a 95 degree August day so all it did was melt popsicle juice all over the street (which turns out to be about as slippery as motor oil). Pedestrians were falling on their asses left and right and the fire dept had to come and hose everything down.

    Then there was the time they set up a rodeo (with large mammal shit and all), a snowboarding hill, and my favorite, the time they had Carmen Elektra in a giant hot tub. Of course there were about a million people there and she’s only about 3′ tall so there wasn’t much to see.

    Good times… good times.

  60. DeBurgo says:

    @loueloui: the guy sounded pretty reasonable in his youtube comments. I think he was just caught up in the festive unruly mob atmosphere.

  61. dlayphoto says:

    Looks like AP & CNN read Consumerist:


  62. Hipsters? Seemed like the riot was started by the bums and crackheads that hang out on 14th street, and the benches in Union Square.

  63. CaptainSemantics says:

    @yesteryear: I was thinking that throughout the whole video as well. All I could think was, “Wow, this guy sounds like a campaign ad on crack.”

  64. What was the name of that site again?
    Oh yeah, Cash Tomato.

    I have a novel idea for a video sharing site. production value quality controls. IF you video is out of focus, you cannot be on. If it features jerky camera motion, you are out. If you have a crappy camera, like your cell phone, it’s out. Basically, 99% of the people posting on youtube would be out. Christ.

    Most important question, is of course, Will a Cash Tomato blend?

  65. ExcelsiorDDZ says:

    $29!! That’s about 1 gallon of gas coming soon.

  66. themediatrix says:

    Who says there’s no recession??

  67. Narockstar says:

    I don’t understand this at all. Was there only one tomato or a bunch of tomatoes?

    People go crazy in a crowd when anything free is at stake. Last summer, in NYC, I was accidentally punched in the face because some car company was throwing out promotional fuzzy dice and one was flying in my general direction. Punched in the face for a piece of crap that would be thrown in the street on the way home.

    NYC mobs do not mess around. And yeah, those weren’t hipsters. Hipsters don’t get excited about promotions unless and indie band is involved. If those were free Pissed Jeans cds, then, you’d have to watch out.

  68. AlexPDL says:

    My god some people have no shame. The stupid Cash Tomato promo was done in several major cities including San Francisco and London. There was no riot at San Francisco’s event… [www.sfgate.com]

    In SF they actually were actually happy and appreciated it. No riot.

  69. It seems everyone in NYC has a video camera on hand for crises these days.

  70. sporks says:

    Fail. For $29? Double fail.

  71. SpdRacer says:

    @BeFrugalNotCheap: I think SNAFU would be more appropriate. It is the NYC after all, isn’t that the greatest city in the world? NOT!

  72. rbdfoxes says:

    Are we really surprised? People in our country riot to PAY more money than that (*ahem* Black Friday/Elmo Dolls)

    Good times, good times.