To paraphrase an old bumper sticker – Adams, which makes that famous vanilla extract, wasn’t founded in Texas. But it got here as fast as it could.
The company was moved to Texas more than 100 years ago by its founder, a pharmacist named John A. Adams. Apparently having lived through one too many Michigan winters, he thought Texas would be a better home base for his fledgling business, selling flavor extracts.
And in Texas, the company flourished. Originally, it was known for a new type of vanilla extract concocted by Adams; its claim to fame was that it could survive baking or freezing, unlike other vanilla flavorings of the day. The Adams family built the company’s reputation by selling the extract door to door, as was done back then, even printing the labels themselves.
The company, now based in Gonzales, outside San Antonio, has diversified to many other types of spices, food colorings, and flavor extracts. (Go check your spice cabinet; you probably have Adams chili powder, onion salt or food coloring there right now.)
And they’ve modernized: They recently introduced Culinary Tonight, a pre-measured spice kit that allows you to easily make gourmet dinners at home, with just a few ingredients. You can even choose Adams flavorings as ingredients in a recently released iPhone app where you make virtual cupcakes
But it’s probably Adams Best Vanilla for which the company is still best known. A double-strength formula, it delivers a pure, aromatic blast of vanilla flavor that holds up well in cakes, ice creams and just about any other recipe.