snopes.com   
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Archived Forums » Food Archive » Mexican Vanilla?

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Mexican Vanilla?
Vesta
We Three Blings


Icon 81 posted      Profile for Vesta   E-mail Vesta   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Growing up in the borderland, I've heard various horror stories and rumors about the vanilla extract sold in Mexico. I've heard from various sources that it's processed with lead or other harmful chemical, or that it will just make you sick. My husband has heard all the same rumors, and that it was made with ethyl alchol instead of methyl.(This could be the other way around.) All this seems rather urban legendish, as I've never actually run across anyone who personaly got ill from the vanilla. I'm not saying food in Mexico isn't unsafe at times, but is the vanilla really as harmful as rumors make it out to be?

Vesta(Not planning on buying any, just curious.)

--------------------
Innocence, on the Bicycle of Propriety, carrying the Urn of Reputation safely over the Abyss of Indiscretion.

Posts: 1170 | From: Tucson, AZ | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Avril
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Avril     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
A little vanilla goes a long way. So even if large amounts would kill you (which, by the way, is true of any vanilla extract--you'd get alcohol poisoning. But we're talking about a LOT of vanilla), the traces you'd get probably wouldn't hurt.

I have used Mexican vanilla. I didn't buy it in Mexico, but at a little international food market. It was $5 for a HUGE bottle. Everyone who ate it seems fine.

Avril

--------------------
There is no failure unless one stops. --Ray Bradbury

Posts: 2115 | From: Oklahoma | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ursa Major
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post 
About 50 or 60 years ago, Mexican vanilla farmers were competing with synthetic vanilla makers from the US and Europe. It got so bad that the Mexicans began selling synthetic as the real thing. To get away with this they had to add coumarin to differentiate it from the familiar taste of fake vanilla. Among other things, coumarin cause liver damage. The Mexicans went back to selling real vanilla (sans coumarin) about the same time the USDA banned coumarin in the early '50s.
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
guruwan2b
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 01 posted      Profile for guruwan2b   Author's Homepage   E-mail guruwan2b   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I have co-workers who go to Mexico a couple of times a year. They always pick me up a big bottle of vanilla. The guy's father is a candy maker and the vanilla he brings back is fantastic. I could almost put a dab behind my ears, it smells so good. [Wink]
I have been cooking with it for years with no problem.
Kim

--------------------
Too much of this navel gazing and we'll disappear up our own arses.
Danvers Carew

Posts: 7465 | From: Oklahoma | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Spam & Cookies-mmm
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Spam & Cookies-mmm   E-mail Spam & Cookies-mmm   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I have some! A friend of ours used to go to Mexico a couple of times a year. She brought back several bottles of vanilla. We ended up with two of them. I still have one nearly full bottle, and one unopened one.

I can't imagine taking in enough vanilla to do any harm, even if there was something wrong with it.

--------------------
Did you see the Announcement?
There's a new snopes message board!

Posts: 7767 | From: Paradise Ceded | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
DizzyLizard
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Hmmm...I live near the border, too, but I've never heard any rumors about Mexican vanilla. I wonder why they are more prevalant there, than they are here.

I don't go to Mexico very often, but whenever we have family here to visit, they go, and they always bring back as much vanilla as they can. To my knowledge, my mom cooked with no other type of vanilla, in my life, and I, and everyone else in my family is just fine.

Edited for spelling.

Dizzy "makes the BEST homemade ice cream!" Lizard

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
BULLDON
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post 
hmmmm. this thread is making me wonder about the maple syrup north of the border [Wink]
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


Icon 211 posted      Profile for BeachLife   Author's Homepage   E-mail BeachLife   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Last time this came up, someone provided a link which described the type of fake Mexican vanilla, sold as real. I rarely worry about such stuff, but it was so alarming that I through mine out.

Basically, if it's clear and amber colored, it's probably okay. If it's murkey and darker colored, get rid of it before you do some serious damage.

--------------------
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Jack Dragon, On Being a Dragon
Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

Posts: 12094 | From: Michigan | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
bufungla
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 203 posted      Profile for bufungla   Author's Homepage   E-mail bufungla   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
Last time this came up, someone provided a link which described the type of fake Mexican vanilla, sold as real. I rarely worry about such stuff, but it was so alarming that I through mine out.

Basically, if it's clear and amber colored, it's probably okay. If it's murkey and darker colored, get rid of it before you do some serious damage.

As Ursa Major said, coumarin is the culprit, according to Unca Cecil.

quote:
Most of the vanilla sold in Mexico is synthetic, though it doesn't all have coumarin in it. Telltale signs of the fake stuff: clear, or dark and murky (the real stuff is amber colored and translucent), low alcohol content (genuine vanilla extract contains at least 35% ethyl alcohol), laughably low price. Pure Mexican vanilla is available, but you're better off getting it in this country. Warning: it won't be cheap.
buf 'but Señor, this is the genuine skull of Cortez as a baby' ungla

--------------------
"Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."

George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra

Posts: 4847 | From: Washington, DC | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
die daagliks phosdex
Monster Mashed Potatos & Grave-y


Icon 603 posted      Profile for die daagliks phosdex   Author's Homepage   E-mail die daagliks phosdex   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Ursa Major:
About 50 or 60 years ago, Mexican vanilla farmers were competing with synthetic vanilla makers from the US and Europe. It got so bad that the Mexicans began selling synthetic as the real thing. To get away with this they had to add coumarin to differentiate it from the familiar taste of fake vanilla. Among other things, coumarin cause liver damage. The Mexicans went back to selling real vanilla (sans coumarin) about the same time the USDA banned coumarin in the early '50s.

It might be worth knowing that McConnon & Company, a now-defunct direct-sales company out here in Winona (anyone remember McConnon's?), had among its products "Extract of Vanilla, Vanillin and Coumarin" in their line until they went out of business a few years back.

--------------------
"Nie lees die hoofopskrifte--lees die daagliks phosdex in plaas ..."

Posts: 1316 | From: Winona, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
die daagliks phosdex
Monster Mashed Potatos & Grave-y


Icon 303 posted      Profile for die daagliks phosdex   Author's Homepage   E-mail die daagliks phosdex   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Avril:
A little vanilla goes a long way....

Especially if it happens to be the stuff from Watkins, which has always prided itself on being double-strength (in other words, use only half as much of Watkins' vanilla than the recipe calls for), thus:
  • ensuring that the flavour isn't lost in baking or freezing; and
  • offers real value for money.
(Call it, perhaps, hometown chauvenism on my part, but then again, it's well-known that Watkins Vanilla has always been a "keeper"....)

--------------------
"Nie lees die hoofopskrifte--lees die daagliks phosdex in plaas ..."

Posts: 1316 | From: Winona, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Nolly
Fin City


Icon 602 posted      Profile for Nolly   Author's Homepage     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by BULLDON:
hmmmm. this thread is making me wonder about the maple syrup north of the border [Wink]

ACK!! [Eek!] BLASPHEMY!! My fellow Canucks may tinker with trivial foodstuffs like chocolate (see Mars Bar Candy...) but never our national pride...Maple Syrup! Oh the humanity!! [lol]
Nol "Oh Cana-duh" ly [Razz]

--------------------
DON'T waste money on expensive paper shredders to avoid having your identity stolen. Simply place a few dog turds in the bin bags along with your old bank statements..

Posts: 102 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Mr. Furious
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 401 posted      Profile for Mr. Furious   Author's Homepage   E-mail Mr. Furious   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Are there candy bars made by the major manufacturers (e.g. M&M/Mars, Nestle, etc) specifically for Canada? I was always under the impression that the bars available in Canada were, in general, the ones sold in England by those companies.

--------------------
"He's not gonna let me in, I'm Mr. Dirty Mouth!"
- Jeffrey Coho (Craig Bierko), Boston Legal

Posts: 8729 | From: North Carolina | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
DarkDan
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 601 posted      Profile for DarkDan   Author's Homepage   E-mail DarkDan   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I have nothing to add, but the thread title sounds like a new sitcom that will either be on UPN or WB.

DarkDan

--------------------
Missing snopesters | snopesters Facebook group | SLC Birthdays | What does "Bookachow", "YOMANK!" and other lingo mean?
"Gonna free fall out into nothing, gonna leave this world for a while" --Tom Petty

Posts: 3698 | From: Philadelphia, PA or >Tinton Falls, NJ< | Registered: Oct 1492  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
anna
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 217 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Vanilla from Madagascar has almost doubled in price due to a series of disasters both natural and man made. Vanilla is more popular than ever, so demand is way up. Vanilla vines take two or three years to really start producing beans, so don't look for any reduction in prices soon. Hang on to Your Mexican vanilla!
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Amperage
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 214 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Mexican Vanilla. . .oh my. I adore the stuff. Just the smell. . .

Now, all you Canadians just hand over the Cadbury's flakes, and nobody will be hurt. Don't do anything rash. just drop the tubes and slide them sloowwwwllllyyy across the border with your feet. . .
[Big Grin]

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Santa Mari-a
Happy Holly Days


Icon 99 posted      Profile for Santa Mari-a     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by the daily phosdex:
quote:
Originally posted by Avril:
A little vanilla goes a long way....

Especially if it happens to be the stuff from Watkins, which has always prided itself on being double-strength (in other words, use only half as much of Watkins' vanilla than the recipe calls for), thus:
  • ensuring that the flavour isn't lost in baking or freezing; and
  • offers real value for money.
(Call it, perhaps, hometown chauvenism on my part, but then again, it's well-known that Watkins Vanilla has always been a "keeper"....)

I followed your link and ordered a bottle, Daily Phosdex. I'll take your word that it's good vanilla, but what a steep shipping charge! Almost as much as the actual bottle! I'll see if the "double strength" part is true, so that the bottle will last longer.

--------------------
Si hoc comprehendere potes, gratias age magistro Latinae.

Posts: 1720 | From: Charlottesville, VA | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
JR
We Three Blings


Icon 01 posted      Profile for JR   E-mail JR       Edit/Delete post 
Bah, buy the beans.... [Big Grin]

--------------------
Semper ubi sub ubi

Posts: 1175 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Nolly
Fin City


Icon 301 posted      Profile for Nolly   Author's Homepage     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by the daily phosdex:
Especially if it happens to be the stuff from Watkins, which has always prided itself on being double-strength (in other words, use only half as much of Watkins' vanilla than the recipe calls for), thus:

ensuring that the flavour isn't lost in baking or freezing; and
offers real value for money.
(Call it, perhaps, hometown chauvenism on my part, but then again, it's well-known that Watkins Vanilla has always been a "keeper"....)

Watkins Vanilla is incredible! It truly is double strength and the flavour is intense. I use their cinnamon as well. VERY strong and of high quality.
quote:
Originally posted by Amperage:
Mexican Vanilla. . .oh my. I adore the stuff. Just the smell. . .

Now, all you Canadians just hand over the Cadbury's flakes, and nobody will be hurt. Don't do anything rash. just drop the tubes and slide them sloowwwwllllyyy across the border with your feet. . .
[Big Grin]

[Eek!] ok....(slides a box across the border)

Nol " [lol] " ly

--------------------
DON'T waste money on expensive paper shredders to avoid having your identity stolen. Simply place a few dog turds in the bin bags along with your old bank statements..

Posts: 102 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
KPersimmon
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Here's what I've gleaned from various references about coumarin. Please pardon any redundancies.
Coumarin was widely used up until the 1940's as a substitute for vanilla. It was outlawed in the USA as a food additive because of the possibility of liver damage, as has been previously mentioned, but reportedly is still found in Mexican versions of imitation vanilla. An alternate, or common, name for coumarin is Tonka Bean Extract and it is still widely used in perfumery because of its wonderful aroma.

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


Icon 211 posted      Profile for BeachLife   Author's Homepage   E-mail BeachLife   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by KPersimmon:
...but reportedly is still found in Mexican versions of imitation vanilla...

You got this part wrong. It is sold as real Mexican Vanilla. I've seen it and purchased it.

--------------------
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Jack Dragon, On Being a Dragon
Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

Posts: 12094 | From: Michigan | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
KPersimmon
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post 
posted 15 October, 2003 06:34 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by KPersimmon:
...but reportedly is still found in Mexican versions of imitation vanilla...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You got this part wrong. It is sold as real Mexican Vanilla. I've seen it and purchased it.>>>

I stand corrected.

Since tonka/coumarin is still used as a food flavoring in some localities outside the US, it makes me wonder if the original claims about its harmful effects could have been exaggerated, much like the "saccharin scare" of the mid 1960's. Obviously, only a very small amount of the extract would be used as a flavoring, so I wonder how harmful it could actually be when used properly?

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Barbara
Layaway in a Manger


Icon 503 posted      Profile for Barbara   Author's Homepage   E-mail Barbara   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by nolly:

quote:
Originally posted by BULLDON:
hmmmm. this thread is making me wonder about the maple syrup north of the border [Wink]

ACK!! [Eek!] BLASPHEMY!! My fellow Canucks may tinker with trivial foodstuffs like chocolate (see Mars Bar Candy...) but never our national pride...Maple Syrup! Oh the humanity!! [lol]

Hush, now. It's better the yanks believe ill of our maple syrup. More for us that way.

Barbara "sweet dreams" Mikkelson

Posts: 2511 | From: Los Angeles, CA | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

   Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2