Friday, November 19, 2010




1 : flavored with the extract of the vanilla bean 2 : lacking distinction : plain, ordinary, conventional

I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about the ongoing VANILLA vs. CHOCOLATE battle. First, I have decided to capitalize both words so that VANILLA doesn't seem to be favored over CHOCOLATE in its all-caps-ness. I realize VANILLA is the word of the day, so I will give it fair attention as such. However, this is an ongoing debate, and I'm trying to remain non-partisan.

For the sake of brevity, I will keep this argument in the sphere of ice cream because, as most of us know, CHOCOLATE is much more versatile in the wider world of desserts than is VANILLA. This is just the truth. There is a spectrum of CHOCOLATE hues, as well as multi-levels of bitterness and sweetness and tartness and spiciness. I will not discount, however, the absolute necessity that is VANILLA extract, used in a vast majority of baked goods. That said, VANILLA-flavored items don't often cloud the bakery atmosphere. At the bakery where I work, our VANILLA items consist of VANILLA buttercream frosting (used on a few cakes/cupcakes) and a vanilla beignet consigned by a local French bakery. CHOCOLATE items present about 65% of everything, the others being mainly fruit- or nut-oriented.

MOVING ON. Ice Cream. According to, VANILLA wins as the most popular ice cream flavor ranking at 29%, far beyond CHOCOLATE's 8.9%. These results come from the International Ice Cream Association (part of the larger International Dairy Foods Association), who comment in a recent article that VANILLA's versatility is responsible for its status:

Vanilla continues to be America's flavor of choice in ice cream and novelties, in both supermarket and foodservice sales. This flavor is the most versatile, mixing well with toppings, drinks and bakery desserts.

I mean, this is true. VANILLA is basic. I want to say, "VANILLA is the new black," but there is nothing new about it.

Versatility aside, I still think VANILLA is superior. My reasoning is NOT because VANILLA is healthier (grossly false) or classic (although that's an arguable factor), but simply that the more crap you add to CHOCOLATE, the less you can appreciate its flavor. The average ratio between dairy and CHOCOLATE in ice cream is 6 to 1. You might as well just drink a glass of milk through a CHOCOLATE straw. CHOCOLATE is best enjoyed in its most potent form—as just CHOCOLATE.

VANILLA on the other hand is similar to a spice—a little goes a long way. Adding VANILLA to ice cream is like putting barbecue sauce on chicken. You don't eat chicken-flavored-barbecue sauce—you eat some fucking barbecue chicken. The VANILLA towers over the dairy. There is no competition between the flavor and the milk.

I rest my case.

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