It is always interesting to learn the history behind the ingredients we use in the kitchen. Vanilla, being one of the most loved and used spices, mainly in desserts, has a fascinating history that begins in prehispanic Mexico. Do you want to know more about it? Take a look at this timeline.
1400 AD - “The Legend” – Legend has it that in 1000 AD a Mexican tribe, the Totonacs, discovered vanilla.
1427 - “The Sacred Bean” - The Aztecs used vanilla to flavor their favorite drink, Cacahuatl, the “Drink of the Gods”.
1519 - "The Conquered Bean" - Upon Cortes’s arrival in Mexico City, he discovered vanilla, as Moctezuma greeted him graciously with the Drink of the Gods.
1571 - “Let’s Make it Official" - The name “vanilla” makes it into a botany dictionary.
1602 - "The Queen Bean" - Queen Elizabeth I begins a trend of spraying vanilla on sugar and using it to make sweets.
1650 - "Vanilla Plantations" - Large vanilla plantations are established in Mexico.
1822 - "Vanilla from Mexico" - Mexico is chief producer of vanilla until mid-1800, when it was first shipped to the islands of Reunion and Mauritius by the French.
1836 - "A Tasty Discovery" - After much observation, Mr. Charles Morren discovered that the flowers could be artificially pollinated.
1841 - “Give Vanilla a Hand" - Edmond Albius, a 12 year-old slave, discovered the technique of manual pollination still used to this day.
1880 - "Vanilla in Madagascar" - The orchids were sent from Reunion Island to Madagascar, along with instructions for pollinating the vanilla planted in the tropical rainforests along the coast.
1890 - “Ze French Arrival" - Wherever the French settled, vanilla plantations followed. The French eventually left Madagascar in the mid 1970’s, when vanilla has been grown almost entirely by local families.
2016 - “Modern Vanilla Romance" - With 80% of the world’s production, Madagascar remains the #1 vanilla producing / exporting country in the world. Source: brisangroup.com/blog/vanilla-experts