How did vanilla become the most common and “default” ice cream flavor?
And why isn’t it traditionally used in much else? Sure, it’s used in all kinds of baked goods, but rarely as a major flavor, and you rarely find vanilla candy or vanilla gum or even (though sometimes) vanilla sauce.
(Of course, recently you find vanilla coffee and vanilla soaps and candles, Starbucks makes vanilla scones and See’s makes vanilla lollypops, but those are all relatively minor and relatively recent uses.)
Because it’s the best ice cream flavor, duh! Especially French vanilla.
It is the predominant flavor in white and yellow cake, but you don’t notice it because it’s subtle, and you’re used to the taste of it. Vanilla sauce is common in French desserts as Creme Anglais. And many desserts have vanilla filling in the form of Bavarian cream or pastry cream (creme patissiere).
It is just one of those flavors that goes better with sweet foods than savory, that’s all, like chocolate (yes, I know about mole and chili made with chocolate, but mostly it’s a sweeter taste). You do see vanilla candy, but it’s the filling: vanilla buttercream. Mini Tootsi Rolls have a vanilla variety. I think vanilla gum might be good, but, come to think of it, you don’t see chocolate gum, either.
Good question. “Vanilla”, despite being white, isn’t “plain”. It’s flavored by extract from a bean, which is pretty weird, stated like that. (Americans never took to the sweet Bean Soup served as dessert in Chinese restaurants – a real Chinese dessert, as opposed to Fortune Cookies)
A true"blank" ice ctream would be the “Sweet Cream” flavor sold by Thomas Sweet, Cold Stone, and a few other ice cream sellers, but it’s by no means common, and I’ve never seen it packaged in supermarkets.
Sure you do - Extra Mint Chocolate Chip (yeah, it’s mint with chocolate, but you can taste the chocolate; it’s sort of like a gum version of a peppermint patty). The “Dessert Delights” line has everything from Rainbow Sherbet to Key Lime Pie, but no vanilla. According to Wikipedia, Trident once made “Peppermint with Vanilla” flavor, but it’s been discontinued.
Never thought about it, but it is a bit odd that vanilla seems to be the default “bland” normal.
Vanilla is certainly used in lots of things, but it’s rarely highlighted. You can always find white and yellow cake, but only sometimes “vanilla” cake. You can find root beer and creme soda but no “vanilla” soda. It’s the default flavor for a lot of things, but it’s only the “marquee” flavor for ice cream. Which is odd considering how popular it is as ice cream. Wouldn’t you rather buy a vanilla cake than a plain white cake, especially when they’re likely to taste the same anyway? (Maybe not, since they do make vanilla cake mix; it must not be as popular for some reason.)
And why ice cream? I love vanilla ice cream, but how did it become the standard? I understand the first ice cream recipes all called for fruit, not vanilla (or chocolate). When was vanilla ice cream invented? Was it spurred by the invention of artificial vanilla flavoring?
It may be due to the flavour compliment or synergy of the cool and ‘ethereal’, but not overwhelming, taste. Vanilla also compliments many other flavours without overwhelming them (such as chocolate).
There are not very many distinctly ‘cool’ spices which compliment the experience of ice cream so well. There are some kinds of fruit flavours that might be viable options, but are not as concentrated flavor and could even introduce unwanted acid which might curdle milk (or be less available for use due to the perishable nature). Notes of citrus could come close (and also compliment other tastes like chocolate)- as found in sorbet- orange and lemon being some of the most popular.
Then short answer is just because it was the best and most available spice to use for that purpose.
The long answer would have to investigate what makes things taste good and why- I can’t explain the ‘why’ of taste. Flavor compliment and synergy is hard to understand, and even harder to put to words- it’s like trying to examine why art is beautiful.