va-ni-la n., unexciting, normal, conventional or boring – at least that’s how it’s defined in the Urban Dictionary. Oh, you thought this post was about the Vanilla Reload Card from Visa? Sorry to disappoint you, this post is just about…vanilla. With all this talk about Vanilla, I got to wondering, where does vanilla come from? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t come from Office Depot. Vanilla is a flavoring derived from Orchids (I see a Thai Airways promo in the making) primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-Leaved Vanilla.
I honestly had no idea Vanilla came from Orchids, that was news me. I mean, I’ve heard of Vanilla Ice, Vanilla Coke, French Vanilla, Vanilla Sky (terrible movie by the way) but I’d never heard of the Vanilla Orchid before. Now, unless you’ve been in a country without the internet and travel blogs, you’ve probably heard about the Vanilla Visa Cards. Personally, I can’t wait for the Saffron card by MasterCard to hit stores. Just kidding, there’s no Saffron card.
How did we come by Vanilla? In the 15th century, Aztecs invading the highlands of Mexico conquered the Totonacs and developed a taste for the vanilla pods. The Totonacs paid tribute to their conquerors by sending them Vanilla. Until recently, Vanilla was delivered in the form of plastic by clerks at big box stores. Fortunately for bakers, there’s no run on the floral kind. If you’re in search of the plastic kind, you might want to make like the Aztecs and find new ground to conquer. Happy hunting.