The history of whipped cream
The discovery of whipping cream is lost in obscurity. The process is easy enough to have been discovered by accident many times in many places. A likely scenario is where someone in a cold climate was making butter, but being in a hurry, he whipped the cream instead of whipping it. A common folktale tells of a brisk horseback ride with a half-full pot of cream.
The first known reference was when French chef Vatel created a sugary variation to serve at a reception honoring King Louis XIV in 1661. The addition of sugar is taken for granted today, but many other flavors have been added over the years, vanilla being the most common. Other popular scents include brandies or liqueurs and orange.
In the 1930s, British scientists began to develop aeration systems for use in the food industry. They soon developed a working system using pressurized N2O (nitrous oxide). The N2O is completely immersed in dairy products like cream, creating instant whipped cream when the pressure is released. Portable units suitable for home use as well as larger commercial systems were developed.
After World War II, American companies began manufacturing whipped cream dispensers. Many never developed quality systems, and some companies discontinued production. The introduction of single-use disposable cans in the 1950s led to the closure of most of the remaining ones.
The waste from disposable cans has always been considered undesirable, even in the wasteful time period in which they were developed. The nature of the system always left some cream in the can when the N2O had run out. The waste of the can itself was not an issue at the time. The convenience was judged to far outweigh the disadvantage of waste.
In today’s ecologically conscious society, many of us are no longer willing to contribute to the waste of disposable cans. There are many quality alternatives available. Making whipped cream at home with a whipped cream dispenser is fun, environmentally safer, and less expensive than disposable pressurized cans.