5 Facts about the Acclaimed Aphrodisiac Vanilla
1. Vanilla is one of the world’s most expensive spices
Vanilla is one expensive spice, second only to saffron, due to its labor intensive pollination and harvesting.
Vanilla beans are the fruit of a beautiful climbing orchid vine. It’s elusive white flowers only open their blossoms for one day to be pollinated. Once pollinated, the bean itself takes 10 months to mature on the vine. The delicate pods are hand-picked, and take a few more months to ripen and ferment, the point at which the sensual fragrance becomes fully apparent.
2. Vanilla originated in modern Mexico, where it was believed to arouse sexual desires
The earliest cultivators of vanilla were the Totonac Indians in east-central Mexico. Totonac mythology tells a story of a divine princess who fled to the forest with her mortal lover. When the lover was apprehended and murdered, his blood droplets transformed into fragrant vanilla vines.
The Aztecs, who later conquered the Totonacs, used vanilla in a love-inducing tonic called Chocolatl, served after banquets along with tobacco cigars. The Aztec Emporer Montezuma wasn’t a big eater, but he frequently enjoyed upwards of 50 cups of Chocolatl after a meal. His success in building a harem of ladies was attributed to this consumption.
3. European doctors prescribed Vanilla to stimulate
When the Spanish conquistadors brought spicy vanilla back to Europe from the New World, it was considered a “hot” spice, and prescribed as a tincture to ensure male potency, and “stimulate the sexual propensities.”
Daring European ladies would apply the sultry vanilla pod fragrance behind their ears to provoke the cozy pleasures of warm sweets, and found success in hypnotizing an audience.
4. Vanilla relies on symbiotic relationships to nurture its pod
Until the mid-19th century, only the Melipone bee, native to Mexico, could perform the elaborate pollination of the world’s vanilla vines.
Finally, In the late 1800s, a 12-year-old slave named Edmund Albius, from the African island of Reunion, invented a system of hand fertilization, opening the floodgates for other equatorial producers of vanilla.
Even today, vanilla seeds will not multiply without the companionship of an important fungi. Growers must depend on cuttings to inseminate new plants.
5. Modern studies show that Vanilla does excite
Modern medical studies show that consumption of tantalizing vanilla increases adrenaline levels, a hormone that is naturally elevated when we’re excited.
Ready to try it out? Learn more about our Spiced Vanilla Glaze Massage Oil.
- Julia Kahlig-Garuba