Why is Vanilla Popular?
Every so often, there will be polls asking people in the U.S. and around the world about ice cream. Specifically, what is their favorite ice cream flavor? The winning answer is almost always vanilla.
How did this happen? Why is vanilla the longtime king of ice cream flavors? There's nothing wrong with vanilla. It's quite delicious. But vanilla gets a bad rap sometimes. People will use "vanilla" to describe something bland and boring.
This seems a little unfair to vanilla. This is a flavor that's been around a while. Vanilla has proven its worth. It's not like vanilla is some exotic new flavor. Quite the opposite. Vanilla's been around a little while.
Vanilla originated in South America, yet according to one vanilla historian, vanilla was introduced to us here in America as a flavoring for ice cream. This was not a boring flavor. Vanilla was considered exotic and rare. European royalty enjoyed the flavor and thought of it as anything but boring. In fact, the vanilla historian tells us vanilla was first brought to the U.S. by Thomas Jefferson, who enjoyed the flavor in sweets he sampled in treats in France. Jefferson later imported vanilla beans for the purpose of using them in ice cream.
Vanilla is delicious and versatile. Sundaes often use vanilla cream. The ice cream of pie a la mode is often ice cream. It's a tremendous ice cream "base" for lots of other delicious desserts. This does not make it bland or boring, it makes it delicious.
A quality ice cream shop won't skimp on the vanilla. It will serve up ice cream made with the best vanilla extract. Take a taste, and you'll be reminded why vanilla tops many of those "favorite flavors" list.