Much is made today of chocolate’s ardor-inducing properties. But did you know that back in the 1700’s it was vanilla — not chocolate — that was thought to inflame the passions of men and women alike? No less a person than Cassanova fortified himself with mulled wine spiked heavily with vanilla. The Marquis de Sade also regarded vanilla as, shall we say, a male stimulant. Perhaps he was inspired by the German physician Bezaar Zimmermann who claimed in 1762 that “no fewer than 342 impotent men, by drinking vanilla decoctions, have changed into astonishing lovers of at least as many women.”
At least as many, and who knows how many more besides for those love-crazy vanilla fiends, eh? Funny how this stuff, that was all but scandalous once, has come to be regarded as “plain vanilla”.