There are hazards you can predict while driving a car: annoying honking, pesky tailgating, your GPS losing service in a tunnel. And then there are some things you’d just never see coming. This week, those things were distinctly Italian American. Within a day of each other, two big rigs spilled at least 150,000 fist-sized tomatoes and thousands of jars worth of creamy Alfredo sauce across multiple interstate highways—one in California and the other in Memphis. Things got very slippery; people got injured.
At about 5 a.m. on Monday, a truck driving south on Interstate 80 in Vacaville, California, collided with multiple vehicles before crashing into the center meridian. The rig was carrying approximately 50,000 pounds of tomatoes from Solano Country to the Bay Area. Upon collision, they unfortunately scattered into oncoming traffic and quickly covered about 200 feet of the highly trafficked road.
In certain parts, the edible ball pit was up to two feet thick, a police officer on the scene told the New York Times, before reassuring the reporter that he was not being hyperbolic. The fruit created havoc as early morning drivers squashed the tomatoes into a dirty pulp. “Those tomato skins, man,” the officer said. “Once they hit the asphalt, it’s like walking on ice.”
A chain reaction of crashes occurred after one car, stuck in the sauce, was struck by another. Seven cars piled up, three people sustained mild injuries, and another was hospitalized with a broken leg. It took California Highway Patrol 10 hours to fully reopen the interstate, a process that involved a lot of heavy-duty scooping and a dusting of a kitty litter-like powder to absorb the tomato juice.