Discover the origin of vanilla

Discover the origin of vanilla

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:

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