If you start typing ‘Where does vanilla flavouring come from’ on Google, it is likely that your query will be auto completed. This term has witnessed a surge in trends on the search engine since the past week, and there’s a reason behind this. It all started with a video that surfaced on social media that asked people to Google where vanilla flavouring came from. The first result that pops up is a report by National Geographic from October 2013 that suggests that the vanilla flavouring used in baking could come from a beaver’s secretions.
How shocking, right? The report reveals that vanilla flavouring is made with a few additives, which includes a component called Castoreum. This chemical compound is used by beavers to mark their territory. Due to its proximity to anal glands, Castoreum is a mixture of several excretions including the beaver’s urine and scat. However, the unique diet of beavers lends a pleasant smell to this compound, which is why it has been incorporated in vanilla flavouring. The US FDA has listed Castoreum as a safe additive and it has also been used in perfumes and foods in the past 80 years approximately. It is also a relatively cheaper alternative to vanilla extract which is supposed to be quite expensive.
This news exploded over the internet, with users trying to Google the news and see the results for themselves. The shocking revelation even made people swear off vanilla lattes and vanilla flavouring. It soon became a challenge of sorts, as users challenged their friends to search the term ‘Where does vanilla flavouring come from’ and see the astonishing results.
Take a look at the tweets about vanilla flavouring:
Love how everyone’s searching this, so when I typed “where does…” Guess what was the top search term ????????— Jen (@Jenaveve86) April 7, 2021
Go and Google
“Where does vanilla flavouring come from”
And thank me later..— D | Zaifa stan acc (@_Muneeb_14) April 8, 2021
For example, Westerners saying Asian durian fruit smell awful & gagging at the idea of eating them, when THE EXACT SAME aroma compounds in are what give many popular European cheeses their flavour.
(And vice versa, of course.)— James Wong (@Botanygeek) April 12, 2021
Apparently this is no longer common practice. But it still made me laugh a lot.— Matt Beard (@matthewtbeard) April 9, 2021
The good news is that Castoreum is now seldom used in food products, as vanilla flavouring is now made with a substance called vanillin. This is due to the fact that beaver populations started dwindling, along with the high costs of extracting the compound from the animals. So, rest assured, you can use vanilla flavouring while baking without fear!
About Aditi AhujaAditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.