According to Dictionary.com the term vanilla originates from around 1662, from “Sp. Vainilla “vanilla plant” lit. “little pod,” dim. Of vaina “sheath,” from L. vagina “sheath” (see vagina). [Now there’s a coincidence.] So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes’ soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico. Meaning “conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences” is 1970s, from notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream.”
Wikipedia agrees: vanilla sex (or conventional sex) is a description of what a culture regards as standard or conventional sexual behaviour. Different cultures, subcultures and individuals have different ideas about what constitutes this type of sex. Often, it is interpreted as sex which does not involve such elements as BDSM, kink, or fetish activities.
So can we use “vanilla” as an adjective for things other than sex? E.G…
Vanilla Advertising: advertising that fails to make use of highly creative and motivational dancing meerkats, employees singing insipid versions of old pop songs, vomiting drunkards, corpses, tin can labels, dog turds, etc. in favor of showing consumers a) what the brand is and b) what it could do for you.
Vanilla Architecture: a building that fails to inspire its community with a constant reminder of a pickled baby cucumber, an icicle, a chess piece, a sex toy, a phallus or any other form of worthy cultural icon and instead simply houses people and businesses in unfashionable comfort.
Vanilla Blogging: the sort of blog post that is so painfully original and interesting, it makes your eyes ache for some refreshing SEO over-optimized, spun text that is a comforting jumble of words which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Vanilla Clients: clients who pay on time, every time, and don’t bitch about the cost of six unnecessary staples and an unused memory stick, don’t phone you at midnight to say they’ve changed the schedule and don’t expect you to repitch for their business every time some little upstarts claim they can undercut you.
Vanilla Driving: the sort of supposedly “safe” driving that forces insurance companies to lower their premiums for those drivers, so obliging insurers to compensate by raising the premiums for perfectly respectable, tax-paying speed freaks with accident records that would fill a whole scrap yard.
Vanilla Friends: friends who offer you absolutely nothing in the way of valuable social contacts, wild nights out on the town, parties straight out of Hollywood and air-kissing companionship while you shop at Gucci or Louis Vuitton, and simply exist on the basis of always being around when you need them.
Vanilla Politics: politicians, usually at local government level, who fail to sparkle in the cut and thrust of animated debate on radio or TV, don’t let local worthies and influencers beat them at golf, hate cutting ribbons and are useless at kissing babies – and expect to justify their existence merely by represent the interests of their electorate.
Vanilla Management: management totally devoid of imagination and incapable of grasping truly contemporary techniques such as take-your-kid-to-work-days, dressed-down Fridays, 24-hour flexible working hours and team building exercises teaching factory workers how to use ESP to communicate with pigs.
Vanilla Marketing: marketing that uses modern media but sticks with boring tried and tested successful formulae in known markets, utterly ignoring the latest business models from Harvard intellectuals and expert economic predictions from the Daily Mail (UK), The NY Daily News (USA), The Toronto Sun (Canada) along with other respected, high-brow journals.
Vanilla Salesmanship: selling techniques that shamefully disregard the sophisticated science of selling, carried out by sales employees who do not even have the basic entry level of a PhD in psychology, and somehow survive simply by matching people with products or services. Infantile in the extreme.
Vanilla Shoes: shoes that make walking possible for more than 6 steps on a red carpet, rather than the superbly on-trend 8 inch platform shoes designed for today’s sophisticated woman by people who probably invest their huge profits in new, private podiatry and physical therapy clinics around the country.
Vanilla Shopping: shoppers who take up the time of shop assistants in luxury retail outlets while they try on endless garments, interrupting the assistants’ nail-filing and gossip time, and having purchased nothing, leave and go buy lots of things at Walmart or Primark.
What “vanilla” terms can you share?
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