The Fort Bend Foodie 02/06/13

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, ovens are heating up with sweet treats from the heart. One ingredient that is almost always included is vanilla extract.  Did you know the most popular brand of vanilla is a product of Texas?  That’s right folks!  A pharmacist named John A. Adams launched Adams Best Vanilla Extract in Beeville, Texas in 1905.  They are celebrating their 125th Anniversary this month.

He started the Adams Extract Company in Michigan in 1888, but moved to Texas in 1905 to get away from the harsh climate.  Back then, most extracts were sold to pharmacies with the caution label “Do not bake or freeze”.  Inspired by his wife’s desire to use a flavoring that would not bake or freeze out, he knew he could come up with a vanilla that was better than any other available at the time.  He discovered the formula he wanted with just $6.71 worth of materials.  His wife came up with a cake recipe for the family to test the vanilla and use the food coloring, which he also made.  She exclaimed, “John, this is the BEST flavoring I have ever used!”  Hence, the name Adams BEST stuck.   That was also the invention of a famous cake we are all familiar with today.  Yep!  Red Velvet Cake was born.  Stay tuned next week for the original recipe.

Their two sons, Fred and Don sold the double-strength extract door-to-door and helped their father print labels at night.   The bottles of Adams Best vanilla were sold with a guarantee that if it were not the best the customer had ever used, the company would refund their money.

In the early 1960’s the spice division was added. and in 2002 Adams Extract was moved to Gonzales, Texas and renamed Adams Extract and Spice LLC.

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