Sabine -- pictured here having a little Photoshop moment -- previously reported on the important developments in the history of mass-produced ice cream treats. As we all know, Bean is a vanilla hound. She can hear the sound of a vanilla ice cream carton from several yards away. Vanilla is a treasured orchid product in the Cats and Catts house.
Riley, of course, could care less about the whole thing. Griffin and Lan Lan like vanilla, but not nearly with the same enthusiasm as Selena Sabine. But Bean isn't alone in her vanilla craze. The U.S. consume approximately 1,200 tons of vanilla beans a year.
The world supply of vanilla, however, is more precarious than any of the cats would like to admit (the lazy freaks. . . .). From 1998 to 2005, we suffered a drastic shortage of vanilla. A cyclone and political unrest in Madagascar laid waste to vanilla crops, and it took years to recover. According to Patricia Rain, the world used about 2,300 metric tons of vanilla, but in 2004 the world used on 1,200. Companies that made the vanilla products the Cats and Catts crew like to consume shifted to "flavor identical alternatives." The New York Times reported in April 2004, "Shortage Makes Vanilla as Precious as Gold."
Now, here's some good news. The vanilla supply rebounded after a lush 2005 crop in Madagascar. One newspaper reported "happy days for vanilla lovers are almost here again" (Lincoln Journal Star, "Vanilla, Good & Plenty," 5/18/2005). If you're in the hunt for real vanilla, we recommend you start with vanilla products endorsed by the "Vanilla Queen" Patricia Rain. Bean, however, endorses a wider range of vanilla treats, as long as she beats the other kitties to the bowl.