Hope Katz Gibbs

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Are You a Vanilla Purist? [McCormick / Costco Connection]

Ad copy by Hope Katz Gibbs
Paid Advertisement: McCormick
Published in Costco Connection, April 2004

For centuries, people have been demanding and adoring only the best vanilla beans. The Aztecs used to mix a drink called Xoco-loll, a silky beverage made from cocoa and vanilla beans. The Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez was likely impressed by the flavor after conquering the Aztec Empire in 1520 ‘ He is credited with bringing vanilla back to Spain ‘ and after just a taste of the new find, Europeans quickly become enamored of vanilla and its popularity spread throughout the continent.

Vanilla remains one of the most loved flavors in the world today. Americans, especially, love vanilla and consume more than half of all world production. In recent years, vanilla has been added to the flavor to coffee, fruit, sauces, and sweet and savory entrees.

Lately, however, the price of Pure Vanilla Extract has increased. The reason is partly due to high demand, but mostly the result of a cyclone that blew through Madagascar in 2000. This tiny island 250 miles from the eastern coast of Africa is the world’s top producer of high-quality vanilla beans, and the storm destroyed almost 30 percent of the crop as well as storage houses containing tons of inventories.

More bad weather last year caused another portion of the crop not to flower, explains Costco member Patricia Rain, the author of The Vanilla Chef cookbook. What’s worse for vanilla lovers to learn is that Madagascar normally exports more than 65 percent of the world’s vanilla production (about 1,200 tons of cured, dried vanilla),

It isn’t easy to get vanilla to blossom, either. It takes the yellow-green vanilla orchid blossom three years to flower, and it will die within a day if it isn’t hand-pollinated. Each
flower produces only one bean. The result is that a pound of vanilla beans, which sold on the open market for $20 or $30 three years ago, now runs $200 or more, Rain says.

The good news is that tropical farmers in Madagascar and other vanilla-growing countries around the world, including Indonesia, Mexico, Uganda, Tonga and Comoros, are beginning to increase production. , vanilla beans grown in Madagascar remain the ones to which all others are compared. Despite the complicated growing process, the situation should improve if unforeseen circumstances don’t arise in 2005. More important, McCormick & Company will continue to provide the quality each member has come to expect in McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract. After all, McCormick flavors the world.

THE FACTS:
Average U.S. Price of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 oz, = $3.51 or $3.51 per oz.
2 oz. = $5.25 or $2,63 per oz.
4 oz. = $7,70 or $1,93 per oz.

Costco Price Range – Pure Vanilla Extract
16 oz. = $19.99 to $20.99
$1.25 per oz, to $1.31 per oz.
Price information based on IR1 Data, Feb. 22, 2004

McCormick Vanilla Vinaigrette

If quality is a top priority for you, and you are willing to try something new, top your next salad with this unique and tasty vinaigrette.

What you’ll need:
3/4-cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp McCormick Tarragon Leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp McCormick Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
Combine all ingredients. Mix well.

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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