The Totonac tribe of pre-Columbian Mexico was the first to cultivate the alluring spice of vanilla, and the story that accompanies its origin tells of forbidden love. According to one legend, Princess Xanat fell in love with a mortal, and when she and her lover attempted to run away, they were killed. The first vanilla orchid sprouted from the blood that flowed from the two lovers. When Spanish conquistadors introduced the spice to Europe, its intoxicating fragrance wafted across the land and today it remains a ubiquitous ingredient in everything from perfumes and beauty products to desserts and drinks.

The erotic effects of vanilla have been studied for years, with men showing a particularly strong sensual response. Not only does the smell of vanilla lower stress levels to get you in the mood for love, but it also evokes warmth and euphoria. Don't believe it? Try some vanilla-infused dessert recipes from one of these sexy cookbooks or light a few vanilla-scented candles while enjoying a hot movie or two and then see what you think.