In moments of mental inertia, I tried to note down every vanilla fragrance out there and then critically assess it. A task as easy as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with bare hands and feet clad in Louboutins. There are virtually thousands of perfumes (not to mention body products) with a predominant vanilla impression, all vying for the "best vanilla fragrance in the market". And it became especially difficult taking into account that vanilla -like rose- is one of those fragrance notes that tend to leave me with a "huh, is this all there is to it" face; no doubt due to saturation of the market, unidentified traumatic experiences buried into my deep unconscious and the fact that I don't like "easy" things. And vanilla, no matter how you slice it, is "easy".
According to the Australian Orchid Society, "Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. Unable to marry him due to her divine nature, she transformed herself into a plant that would provide pleasure and happiness – that plant was the Vanilla vine. This reputation was much enhanced in 1762 when a German study found that a medication based on vanilla extract cured impotence — all 342 smiling subjects claimed they were cured."
Of course one would have to go for organic, natural vanilla extract for that, surely (not to mention that raw beef meat was also considered an aphrodisiac for men in the early 20th century and let's see how many listeria cases there were because of it), but that never stopped the advertising machine from claiming claims they can't support. Personally I have yet to find the man who is mesmerized by pure unadulterated vanilla. It's believe it's just a component with familiarity value to them when picked in a blend; would you have expected them to recognize vetiver, saffron, Ambroxan or ylang ylang? I didn't think so...
Vanilla's appeal is actually much simpler than all that: it's a mental connection with a time when we felt nurtured. Or rather vanillin is. But let's take things at the top.