My dissertation project takes vanilla as its primary object of analysis. From lattes to scented candles, vanilla flavors contemporary life in the United States. Vanilla, for many Americans, evokes “plain vanilla,” an expression that signals something boring, normal and, frequently, white. This project argues that overlooking vanilla, or dismissing it as plain, forecloses the opportunity to analyze its powerful social role in the U.S. and how it inscribes normative identities. In a moment of heightened racial conflict, when media outlets refer to white nationalist militias as “Vanilla-ISIS,” it is vital to understand how vanilla became a cultural signifier and hegemonic referent for white normativity.