My DNA Makes Me Crave Vanilla Ice Cream But I Love It For So Many Other Reasons

Boring. Plain. Uninteresting. Mundane. Blah. Basic. Flat. Bland. Vanilla.

With all due respect to those who describe lackluster things and people as "vanilla," I have a bone to pick with you. Because truth be told, vanilla is the exact opposite of mediocre. Actually, I'm willing to contend that it's the greatest ice cream flavor of all time. No, I'm not exaggerating, nor am I trying to sound anti-mainstream. While chocolate, caramel, mint chip, and strawberry tend to hog the spotlight, there's something about vanilla ice cream that makes it so irresistible.

Don't get me wrong. I adore chocolate. Heck, I often crave it, whether in the form of a candy bar, Hershey's Kisses, Oreos, or yes, ice cream. But, vanilla will forever hold a special place in my heart — and for very valid reasons. Perhaps it's the purity it symbolizes, its soul-warming aroma, or its wholesome yet complex profile. Maybe it's because of the inherently delicate taste that blends well with everything it touches. It could also be that I'm genetically predisposed to find vanilla ice cream utterly divine.

Vanilla ice cream provides a touch of versatility and depth to any dish, but more than that, the iconic flavor simply feels like a hug. This is my love letter to vanilla ice cream.

I am genetically predisposed to choose vanilla over chocolate

I've been a proud vanilla girl since I was a kid, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized exactly why this is the case. As it turns out, my partiality to vanilla is apparently backed by science. When I received the results of my 23andMe gene test, I was delightfully surprised to see taste preferences in the report. I was also pretty shocked to learn that I did indeed have the gene that makes cilantro taste soapy (which definitely checks out).

Recent genetics research conducted by 23andMe has shown that people are likely predisposed to prefer certain flavors of ice cream and other sweets, specifically chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. According to the study, different people possess various taste receptors, which, in basic terms, detect sensitivities to certain odors.

The 23andMe team identified around 800 genetic markers located near the olfactory receptor genes, all of which are possibly linked to fancying vanilla ice cream over chocolate and strawberry. Per my report, I just so happen to be a member of Team Vanilla. Hey, it's science!

A perfect augmentation and a touch of nostalgia

When desserts are served à la mode — which is French for "in fashion" — it typically means that vanilla ice cream has been recruited to augment the lusciousness of the treat. Crowning warm, freshly baked brownies, a slice of apple pie, cookies, waffles, and even grilled pineapple with a scoop or two of cold vanilla ice cream yields an undeniably indulgent combo. Why on earth would someone pair apple pie with mint ice cream? It's like cheeseburgers with mac 'n cheese slapped onto them: two things that are wonderful by themselves but dysfunctional when combined.

The taste and smell of certain foods have the power to invoke strong feelings of nostalgia. For me, a cone or bowl of vanilla ice cream sets off a spark that takes me back to times of innocence and seemingly endless amounts of energy. When my siblings, friends, and I were growing up, taking a spin around the McDonald's drive-thru for a soft-serve ice cream cone was the greatest reward ever. To this day, the signature curlicue swirl is a reminder of childhood and serendipitous reasons to celebrate life. For me (and millions of others, I'm sure), McD's soft serve cones are exhilarating and legendary. Another throwback I dream about: those mini vanilla ice cream cups that come with the tiny wooden "spoon."

Vanilla is a classic that has withstood the test of time

While perfect on its own, vanilla ice cream can also serve as a blank canvas ready to be made into colorful works of art. For example, a standard sundae starts with vanilla ice cream, which is then garnished with any topping imaginable. Even when hot fudge, caramel sauce, sprinkles, berries, and peanuts are present, the vanilla ice cream holds everything together. Vanilla is also the foundation of mega-popular flavors like cookies and cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, moose tracks, and butter pecan. Even root beer floats call for vanilla scoops. Ya see? Without vanilla ice cream, the world would be a lot more boring.

One could argue that vanilla ice cream contains fewer calories or less sugar than chocolate, blah, blah, blah. But, what matters is how ice cream makes you feel. And for me, enjoying vanilla ice cream is an experience that is emblematic of luxury without being remotely cloying. From McDonald's soft serve to the magic of à la mode to my DNA, vanilla ice cream reigns supreme in my book.

Look, I'm not saying it's rare to love vanilla. It's consistently ranked among the top ice cream flavors in the world — which is all the more reason to stop using vanilla as a snub for being boring or basic. Let's celebrate it for the luxurious, versatile, subtle, and delicate flavor this ubiquitous ice cream flavor truly is.