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About Us

The Story of Cook's Vanilla

Aztec Kingdom - Discoverers of Vanilla Fruit from the Vanilla  OrchidHundreds of years ago in the tropical forests of the Aztec kingdom, ancient people discovered the fruit of a delicate orchid---and a flavor they called vanilla. Today the world over, no flavor is as savored. Open a bottle of Cook’s Pure Vanilla Powder or Pure Vanilla Extract, and out pours a rich, sweet aroma, unique as it is subtle and complex. A tradition of care, skill and knowledge lies behind each bottle of Cook’s Vanilla. Although no one can explain the mystery of its flavor or its universal appeal, we can explain why Cook's is the world’s finest vanilla.

The story of Cook’s Vanilla will take us to several continents-from the golden hills of California’s central coast to the South Pacific and Africa. It spans four generations of a family inspired by love for this exotic flavor, a dedication to excellence and a drive to produce the world’s finest vanilla extract. Along the way you will learn about the slow and careful cultivation that produces the precious vanilla bean, and the equally meticulous process that transforms it to the pure extract we package and distribute to our discriminating and loyal customers.

Angus Tulloch Lochhead Sr. - Young Scottish  ImmigrantIt all started in 1918...

 A young Scottish immigrant, Angus Tulloch Lochhead Sr., headed for St. Louis, Missouri in 1918 with a vision for supplying American homemakers, bakers, and ice cream and candy makers with superior vanilla extract and flavorings. He set about building his small company with an indomitable spirit and faith, an upbeat outlook on life, and the values of a good family. Nothing gives so clear a picture of Lochhead’s character as his reaction to a daunting setback in 1925. He awoke one morning to learn that his factory had burned to the ground, and that the insurance policy he had purchased had never been sent in by the agent. Two days later he was out making sales calls. Mr. Hill at the city Ice Cream Company asked him, "Lochhead, I read that your place burned down; what are you going to do?" Lochhead replied, "I am going to build on the ashes." That very day he received an order for his vanilla from City Ice Cream. During the Great Depression, there was never a food crises in the Lochhead family, for Angus would “put on his selling togs” and the folks at home could tell where he'd been by the orders that arrived.

Raymond Lochhead - R.R. Lochhead Manufacturing Company in Paso  Robles, CaliforniaHis son, Raymond, shared his father's love for vanilla. He saw the importance of chemistry in the formulation of extracts, and so pursued these studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, earning degrees in both chemical and mechanical engineering. These studies laid the groundwork for Ray Lochhead's extensive and ingenious work in the formulation and manufacture of vanilla extract and related products. In 1963 he established the R .R. Lochhead Manufacturing Company in Paso Robles, California, where he continues his work as the Company’s chief chemist. The company’s food technology lab specializes in infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography in the research and development of vanilla and other flavors. His leadership is inspirational and his ideas innovative.

Ken Cook, President of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream & Ray  Lochhead


Ken Cook, President of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, in 1980, decided to enter the vanilla business. He knew from experience that not all vanillas were equal, and that a superior quality vanilla was essential to the making of a superior ice cream. He chose Ray Lochhead to produce all of his vanilla extracts and flavors. In 1991, when Ken Cook passed away, the R.R. Lochhead Manufacturing Company acquired the Cook Flavoring Company, continuing its goal to produce a peerless vanilla extract, while expanding to the retail market.

To ensure our supply of superior vanilla beans, the company began to grow and cure its own vanilla beans, establishing plantations in the Fiji islands and Tonga Islands, a curing station in Bali, Indonesia and most recently, in Costa Rica and Uganda. Today, with its California Manufacturing plant and laboratory and overseas plantations and curing operations, Cook Flavoring Company, now in the Family’s fourth generation, is a completely vertically integrated company unique in the flavoring industry. Benefiting from superior scientific knowledge and lifetimes of experience in vanilla production and manufacturing, Cook Flavoring Company is one of the world’s foremost vanilla manufacturers.

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