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About  Now

Be vanilla

July 2013 1 minute read

The term "vanilla" is often used to describe something ordinary, plain, or standard. In my book, there's nothing less vanilla than vanilla.

Vanilla beans are the fruit of a rare orchid native to Mexico. Their aroma and flavor comes from a compound called vanillin. Each vanilla flower blooms just one morning out of every year. The orchid can only be naturally pollinated by a small Mexican bee, and if it isn’t pollinated that morning, the flower will wilt. No bean.

Commercially, vanilla is delicately hand-pollinated one flower at a time. The labor involved in vanilla production makes it the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron.

Vanilla flavor has been prized since Mesoamerican times, and can be found in every ice cream shop on Earth. It's the best-selling flavor in the world.

Vanilla's universal appeal is why it's the default. Is your default as good as vanilla?

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