For a very long time the vanilla flavoring in ice creams baked eateries came from the anal secretion of beavers. Beaver butts secrete a goo or slime-like product known as castoreum, which these animals use to make their territory.
The food and drug administration listed castoreum as a “regarded as safe” additive, and manufactures worldwide have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years. Castoreum is a chemical product that mostly comes from the beavers’ caster sacs, present in between its pelvis and its tail base.
Castoreum is often a combination of caster gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine. While most anal secretions stink due to odour producing bacteria in the gut, the is chemical compound is a product of the beaver’s special diet of leaves and bark.
Instead of smelling icky, castoreum has a musky, vanilla scent, which is why food Scientists like to include it in recipes. But extraction is a cumbersome (and gross) process which is why many Industries have started exploring other alternatives recently.
There’s a slim chance that vanilla favoring in your food has been sourced from a beaver’s butt. So you can wipe that disgust off and go enjoy a scoop of good-old-vanilla!