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Big Tomato. City of Trees. What’s the best nickname for Sacramento?

Get a spectacular soaring view above Sacramento Valley’s blooming almond orchards

John Hannon shot this spectacular aerial view of blooming almond orchards in the Sacramento Valley. It's from the Arbuckle area in Colusa County. Did you know California grows more than 80 percent of the world's supply of almonds?
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John Hannon shot this spectacular aerial view of blooming almond orchards in the Sacramento Valley. It's from the Arbuckle area in Colusa County. Did you know California grows more than 80 percent of the world's supply of almonds?

Anyone driving northbound into Sacramento on Interstate 5 will see the words emblazoned on the huge water tower to their left: “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.”

The change, made in 2017, wasn’t well received at the time. For years the words “City of Trees” were on the tower.

And in May 2019, a popular television game show has given life to another possible nickname for California’s capital city.

An answer on a Teachers Tournament episode of “Jeopardy!” got people talking. The $800 clue was “The Almond Capital of the World” – which drew a correct response of “What is Sacramento?” from middle-school teacher Sara DelVillano.

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So what is the city’s official nickname?

Sacramento has 10 of them used commonly enough for Wikipedia to list them. That’s the second-most of any California city, one more than Los Angeles, per the user-driven online encyclopedia. San Francisco has 12 distinct nicknames, though three are denoted “archaic” and one (“San Fran”) is considered “locally disparaged” on Wikipedia’s list.

Here is Sacramento’s list of nicknames. Wikipedia has not marked any of them “locally disparaged,” though some locals likely wish the website did.

  • Almond Capital of the World
  • America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital
  • Big Tomato
  • Sac
  • Sacto
  • Camellia City
  • City of Trees
  • River City
  • Sacratomato
  • Sactown

Not mentioned here is the city being called a “cow town” by then-Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson in the early 2000s, when the Kings met the team three times in the NBA playoffs, each series won by L.A.

Most recently, “The Big Tomato” was used by Gary Rotstein of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an article about his city’s stagnant population – yes, Sacramento’s metro area is now bigger than Pittsburgh’s by 20,000 or so people.

It’s unclear how Rotstein came about this rarely-used nickname, but it did leave plenty of residents doing a double-take on the popular social media site Reddit.

One user exclaimed, “Been here over 30 years, not once have I ever heard our city referred by this name,” to which another user replied, “I mean, we can’t stick to one thing so they probably (as) confused as us.”

Which is your favorite nickname for Sacramento? Tell us in the comments.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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