(March 13) Trying to generate interest in tomatoes, an Alabama tomato grower-shipper is introducing tomato kits that play into the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Flavor-Pic Tomato Co. Inc., Birmingham, Ala., will start shipping fried green tomato kits in late April.

The kits feature clamshells with four mature-green tomatoes, a 6.5-ounce package of batter mix and seven recipes.

Flavor-Pic will source its tomatoes from Alabama and Florida, when Southeastern tomatoes hit full production.

“There are not a lot of new and interesting ideas in the tomato category,” said Rick Murrah, marketing director of the 18-year-old tomato repacker.

The product has a $3.59-4.29 suggested retail price.

Flavor-Pic expects to sell 25,000 packages during its first year, Murrah said.

The label shows a picture of the Irondale Café, known as the Old WhistleStop Café, in Irondale, Ala., a small mining town east of Birmingham that was featured in a 1987 book written by Fannie Flagg. The restaurant is known for serving fried green tomatoes.

The kits support the popularity of the product because the book and movie were based on the restaurant that originated the recipe, Murrah said. He said he wasn’t sure how much that association would factor into sales.

Murrah created the pack with former Irondale Café co-owner Bill McMichael, who owns licensing rights to the restaurant name and products. Murrah said he dabbled with the pack last year but won’t begin serious production until this spring.

Flavor-Pic introduced the product at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure 2006 retail and foodservice conference and exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The 1991 movie, which co-starred Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker and Cicely Tyson, was about an unhappy housewife who makes friends with an older woman living in a nursing home. The woman tells many stories about the people she knew at the Whistle Stop Café during the 1940s.