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Where Does Vanilla Flavouring Come From?

“Vanilla Flavour” I think this topic doesn’t need introduction, vanilla is one of most used ingredients in the household in various food items. It’s truly an amazing flavouring ingredient, with various usability’s.  But, where does vanilla flavoring come from? This question has been in the mind of several people last year. Is vanilla flavour really come from beaver butts? Is it true that our food and drink contains beaver butt as vanilla flavour?  Let me give you a brief description of it. 

Where does vanilla flavouring come from?

Last year a popular TikTok trend go viral where people were spitting out their vanilla lattes. It all started when a tiktoker Slowmoee posted a video in which he tells people about the recent search he did on Google about “where does vanilla flavouring come from?

In this video he spit and through out all the vanilla flavor from his home and said “no more vanilla”.  This term was mostly searched last year after the video went viral. People also started searching for where does vanilla come from? And, they found the similar information related to vanilla.

Let’s discuss in detail about the vanilla past, history, and discovery-

What is vanilla flavour?

It is a spice, a family member of orchids(Orchidaceae). It has various species approx 110. But again the most important one and widely used is flat leaved vanilla. It’s the origin of vanilla as a flavouring agent. The vanilla extracted from this plant is used for commercial purposes. Its scope is not limited only to the food industry, instead it has a wide range like cosmetics, beverages etc. But the fact that makes it stand out is its aroma and flavour.

  • Where is it found or where does vanilla flavoring come from?

It is found in tropical and subtropical regions. It is easily found in regions of tropical America, tropical Asia ,and West Africa. Also the region varies from species to species.

  • Vanilla word origin.

Vanilla originated from vainilla( a word taken from Spanish word vania, which means a little pod).

Types of Vanilla Species-

There are commonly three major species of vanilla, grown worldwide but the fun fact is that the source of origin of all these species is easily found in Mesoamerica (it includes parts of current Mexico). The three species are:

  • planifolia-Basically found in Madagascar, Indian Ocean and other tropical areas.
  • tahitensis- It is basically grown and found in the South Pacific.
  • pompona-It is found in central America, south America and west indies.

However the vanilla which is used by or for commercial purposes is V.planifolia.  Two thirds of the world ‘s supply of vanilla comes from this plant. It is also known as Madagascar vanilla and bourbon vanilla.


Vanilla came into the light after the Cortes arrived in Mexico. However the name was given by Spanish explorers, who arrived in the 16th century on the gulf coast of Mexico.

However this spice flourished with time and was introduced in  Africa and Asia by the Portuguese sailor.

The name vanilla was discovered in 1754 by Philip Miller; he mentioned the name in his garden dictionary.


Vanilla was first grown during the Aztec Empire by totonac people during 15 th century on the east coast of Mexico. However they were not  able to completely discover its usage and they named vanilla pod as a fruit.

The one who completely discovered its usage was Hernan Cortes and introduced it and chocolate to Europe.

Mexico became the hub of vanilla. After the process of pollination was discovered it was applied to vanilla also. The orchids were sent to different places like Madagascar, Comoros Islands etc. As a result of this Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Reunion started producing 80% of world production of Vanilla which is 200 metric tons of vanilla beans.

As a result of research conducted by a food and cultural organisation in 2019 , Madagascar and Indonesia emerged as the largest producers of vanilla.

Vanilla plant

The main vanilla species that is used is V.planifolia. Its journey started from Mexico but now it is available in almost all tropical areas.

Vanilla is a climber, it grows like a vine and needs support to grow. However its main component is its fruit which is the flavouring component.The fruit is mainly grown through the process of pollination. The process of extracting the essence varies.

They don’t need extreme climatic conditions but they grow better in hot and humid climates, like in moderate rainfall. Loose soil is preferable with a great quantity of organic matter. There are various ways to grow vanilla plant like:

  • Tissue culture
  • Pollination
  • Artificial vanilla
  • Harvest etc.


Though it is one of the most expensive spices in the world, after various researches various health benefits of vanilla have been found. It applies to both vanilla flavour and aroma.

1. Soothing effect

If your newborn is born prematurely and you are facing a lot of issues, vanilla can have a calm effect on your baby, as its aroma reduces crying among the babies.

Don’t worry it is not limited to newborns it provides relief to adults also, it helps in dealing with anxiety, sleep disorder and breathing problems.

2. Sugar supplement

If you can’t intake sugar vanilla is a perfect option for you as it has fewer calories and carbohydrates in comparison to sugar. It can be a perfect step to shift towards a healthy lifestyle. And you might be able to reduce your high blood glucose level , if you have one.

3. Reduces tooth pain

If you’re facing a toothache, vanilla can be a relief buster, as alcohol in it can numb the pain. Vanilla extract also carries some antioxidants which can provide you with a healing effect.

Pour some drops of vanilla extract on a cotton ball and apply it on your tooth.

4. Nutrition

Vanilla is a good source of nutrition as it contains antioxidants which have different minerals in it . Like  calcium, potassium, magnesium , carbohydrates etc.

Also Read: What is intermittent fasting?

Vanilla Uses

Vanilla has a huge market base. It is not restricted to food items though vanilla essence have a huge popularity in food items like :

  1. Vanilla ice cream
  2. Coffee
  3. Pasta
  4. Smoothies
  5. Bakery items
  6. Cream
  7. Chocolates etc.

Vanilla is more popular among eatables companies due to its flavour and aroma but it is also used in the health sector, perfume industry. Apart from this vanilla is available in the form of-

  • Extract
  • Powder
  • Whole pod
  • Vanilla sugar


Ques 1. Is vanilla expensive ?

Ans. Yes it is a quite expensive spice as it needs labour intensive work.

Ques 2. Does vanilla contain alcohol?

Ans. Yes, vanilla extract has some quantity of alcohol.


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