As consumers, we can find an endless supply of artificial and natural flavors at any local grocery store. These flavors go into the food and beverages we enjoy on a daily basis and provide us with a sense of joy in what we are tasting. Ironically, many consumers do not know that vanilla was the first artificial flavor to ever be invented, altering the course of what the world was tasting. From its discovery, the development of vanillin and artificial vanilla flavoring is partially responsible for the growth of all artificial flavors that we can find at the tip of our taste buds.

At the turn of the 20th century, vanilla was considered an upper-class spice that was highly exclusive and rare to acquire. Interested in developing new chemical compounds, biochemist Theodore Nicolas Gobley developed vanillin. Gobley developed artificial vanilla flavor by evaporating pure vanilla extra and recrystallizing the dry compound by adding hot water. Little did Gobley know, his development would put the natural vanilla industry out of business. Following this development, artificial vanilla was sold and consumed by millions of everyday consumers. Even today, artificial vanilla flavors and vanillin can be found in almost every store, tasted in many baked goods, and sipped in the beverages we enjoy every day. Vanilla remains to be one of the most popularly requested flavors, ever.

Written on May 23, 2019.