The slender and beautiful orchid vine was first cultivated by the Totonac people of Mexico (from whom in the 15th century the Aztecs took up the passion for the wild plant). Later when the Spanish conquerors won over the Aztecs, they took Vanilla to their home – Europe. From there, its flavour spread across the world.
However, the transplantation was not that easy, as the Melipona bee and the Humming bird were two critical players in Vanilla pollination. Later, when Edmund Albius, a slave on the French Island of Renuion discovered that the pale green flowers could be hand pollinated with a thin bamboo stick, the orchid took a rebirth in extended cultivation. The New World Bean, as Vanilla fruits are referred to, soon became a nonpareil ingredient of chololate products which spearheaded its popularity in Europe.
Today, the Dairy Industry uses the largest percentage of the world's Vanilla in ice creams, yoghurt and other flavoured dairy products. Vanilla remains the most popular flavour of ice cream and is an irreplaceable ingredient in chocolates. The cosmetic industry uses it in perfumes, room fresheners, and oils as well as medicines.