Sometimes I forget that as time marches on, the meaning of words change. Take the word "pudding" for example. According to the Food Timeline, pudding has not always referred to the sweet, creamy, eat-it-by-the-spoonful dessert we're accustomed to today. At one point way back in human history, Medieval puddings were meat-based and were the way to stretch all the leftover meat bits even further. These puddings still somewhat live on today as blood puddings. (Definitely not a dessert!) The sweet pudding most Americans are familiar with has it's roots in Roman custards.
I, and probably most of my friends, am most familiar with instant pudding. Not the ready-to-eat kind where you just pull back the lid and scoop away, but the powdered pudding to which you add cold milk and then vigorously whisk until you think your arm will fall off. Okay, not that long - just long enough for the mixture to start to thicken. These first mention of these instant puddings appeared in 1949. And they've stuck around.
Vanilla is usually the pudding flavor I go for when I grab an instant pudding box. Vanilla pudding is great for filling eclairs or cream puffs, or to use in place of frosting if you don't want to overwhelm a cake with too much sugar. And while I've always just gone with instant pudding, it looks like vanilla pudding is pretty easy to make from scratch. Some recipes don't even take very long. Vanilla pudding can even be made vegan. With as easy as it seems to be to make vanilla pudding, I'll have to try making my own some day. Or maybe I'll make a vanilla pudding pie- that looks pretty tasty.