Hoard Your Ice Cream Because We're in a Massive Vanilla Shortage

The nectar of the gods that is ice cream is about to get a hell of a lot more expensive, and we have the distinguished spinster that is vanilla to thank for it.

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Mar 30 2016, 3:00pm

Foto von sarahmilford via Flickr

Have you ever thought about what you would be doing when the end times are upon us? After all, whether we're talking Al Gore-esque climate change advocates or overzealous preachers, we've all probably heard that the end is nigh. But just what in the hell is a person to do when said times change from being nigh to being straight up here?

We all may be finding out the answer to that question pretty damn soon, thanks to the cursed blight that is a bona fide ice-cream-pocalypse. That's right, we may be witnessing the end of ice cream as we know it.

If that doesn't scream out fire and brimstone, what else possibly could?

The nectar of the gods that is ice cream is about to get a hell of a lot more expensive, and we have the distinguished spinster that is vanilla to thank for it. Prices of Madagascan vanilla are skyrocketing and the ice cream industry is worried.

In fact, prices of vanilla surged 150 percent last year because Madagascar—the number one producer of vanilla—had a really lousy harvest.

Didn't think vanilla came from such an exotic place as Madagascar? After you learn more about vanilla, you may not think of it as the plain jane of flavors anymore.

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, following saffron, and the best stuff comes from Madagascar, Mexico, and Tahiti. It's not easy to cultivate vanilla either: The beans are hand-pollinated from flowers in the orchid family, which open for just part of a day, one time per season. If pollination doesn't occur then, no vanilla pod is produced. If things do work out, the pods have to be cured for three to six months in the sun during the day and in a box at night.

One ice cream maker, Charlie Thuillier of the British ice-cream brand Oppo, told The Guardian, "The price has doubled in the last month. We were paying €35 (around $40) a liter in February but now it's €76 (around $85)."

Everything from soft drinks to cakes to perfume will be feeling the pain. But ice cream will suffer the most.

Dave Bishop, the production manager at New Forest Ice Cream, explains, "Vanilla is every ice-cream company's biggest-selling product. You can bring out a niche flavor but vanilla will still be top. You've just got to take the hit on it because customers would notice the difference."

We're sorry, vanilla. Now that we know you are the product of rare Madagascan orchids, tended with care over long periods of time at great expense, we will never again think of you as boring. And please don't deny us your delicate goodness—we don't think we can survive the end times of ice cream.