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The History of Vanilla Pudding

In honor of National Vanilla Pudding Day, we are taking a look at the history of vanilla pudding! It’s thought that the precursor to vanilla pudding originated in Medieval Europe as a twist on an Arab dish. Over the centuries, this recipe evolved into blancmange, meaning “white dish.” Blancmange was enjoyed by wealthy Europeans and is even referred to in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as well as in an early 15th century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II. It is also referenced in the book Little Women. The key ingredients of blancmange were milk, sugar, and shredded capon or fish. In the 17th century, the meat was removed from the recipe and the dish evolved again, becoming a dessert made with cream and eggs, or gelatin. In the 19th century, when cornstarch was added to the recipe and the eggs were dropped, the dish evolved into cornstarch pudding, or what we know today as vanilla pudding! Modern recipes call for milk, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Fancy versions are sometimes dressed up with fresh fruit, while the dish is commonly eaten as-is by children.

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