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12-Year-Old Solves Great Botanical Mystery

A vanilla shake is one of life’s simple pleasures, especially on a hot summer’s day. Did you know that vanilla traces its origin all the way back to a twelve-year-old slave boy living on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean? Vanilla is now the most popular spice in the world, but in 1841 the world produced fewer than two thousand vanilla beans, all in Mexico.

Up until the mid-19th century, vanilla orchids were pollinated exclusively ...

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