Heirloom Tomatoes and Hybrids
Heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated; meaning the seeds can be grown again the following year with the same plant characteristics. An heirloom is considered an heirloom after it has been produced for at least 50 years. Many varieties are actually 100 years old or older. Brandywine for example originates from the late 1800′s. Cherokee Purples originated from the Cherokee Nation and are over 200 years old. The heirlooms can be ugly if you compare them with the uniformity of hybrids, but they beat the hybrids in taste and texture hands down.
Hybrid tomatoes come from a mix of tomato plants (parents) in order to create a tomato that has the best features of both parents. These hybrids are developed by seed companies. Most seeds taken from a hybrid for the next generation will be either sterile or the plants they produce in that next generation do not retain the characteristic of the parent hybrid plant. So you can end up with a tasteless tomato. However, yields are higher with hybrid tomatoes than with heirloom tomatoes. Many hybrids are bred to be disease resistant.