The tomato - the fruit for which Burpee is most famous - first grew as wild, cherry-sized berries in the South American Andes. The tomato as we know it today was developed in Mexico.
The Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by W. Atlee Burpee, an 18-year-old with a passion for plants and animals and a mother willing to lend him $1000 of "seed money" to get started in business. Although it began as a livestock company, within 25 years Burpee had developed the largest, most progressive seed company in America. By 1915 Burpee was mailing a million catalogs a year to America's gardeners.
Burpee is still a family seed company and still in the Philadelphia area. Today Burpee is owned and operated by George Ball Jr.