A native of Atlantic Coast from Mexico to Brazil, Vanilla is a flavoring agent for ice creams, milk, various beverages, candies, and for commercial and domestic baking, aroma therapy and in the manufacture of perfumes. The important countries where this member of the orchid family grows are Madagascar (almost half of the world's production is form here), Reunion, Indonesia, Malagasy, Tahiti, Mexico, Seychelles and the tropical areas of India. The term 'vanilla' comes from the Spanish 'vainilla' which originally meant 'little pod'. History says that it was Hernan Cortes the Spanish Conqueror who introduced vanilla and the chocolate to Europe in the 16th century. European sailors took vanilla into Africa and Asia. Vanilla cultivation is now popular in Kerala, India. Continuous attempts to cultivate and grow this plant outside Mexico did not yield any result, because of certain problems in proper pollination. It was a local species of bee that helped the pollination of this orchid in the place of its origin. This was found out by a Belgian botanist in the 19th century. And it was a 12-year old slave of a French family who found out that the plant can be pollinated by hand and this paved the way for cultivation of the plant vanilla outside Mexico and all over the world. Vanilla is an expensive spice, expensive because of the great care in growing and nursing it. But its special floral aroma makes it a much sought after spice, in spite of its high cost. But the price takes some unpredictable turns up and down, mainly due to climatic variations and the easy availability of artificially made vanilla, which claims almost 95 % of all vanilla products now.