Vanilla arrived from the New World at the same time chocolate did in 1520. Its arrival coincided for a reason, namely that vanilla was considered an essential element in the liquid chocolate cocktail that Cortez was first served by the Aztecs (along with corn meal and honey). It wasn’t until some 80 years later that anyone thought to use vanilla on its own as a flavoring. That anyone was a fellow by the name of Hugh Morgan, royal pharmacist to Queen Elizabeth the First. He used it to flavor his medical concoctions and started something of a fad in the process.
My question is: how did vanilla, an essential component of chocolate both then and now, come to be seen as chocolate’s practical opposite? The white yin to chocolate’s dark yang? It makes no sense, and I’ve never really read anything on the subject. How did vanilla come to be seen by so many (notably kids in ice cream stores) as in fact the near opposite of a flavor? It’s a mystery, at least to me. If anyone has any ideas on that I’d love to hear them.