January 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Whipped Cream King

Aaron Lapin was born on this day in 1914 in Missouri (U.S.). He grew up to be the inventor of whipped cream in an aerosol can.

Lapin's big hit was called Reddi-Wip. This sweetened whipped cream in a can was propelled out by blasts of nitrogen gas when people pressed the valve. It was a hit partly because it was convenient—before this, people had to pour cream into a bowl, sweeten it, and whip it on their own—but also because the aerosol can allowed the whipped cream to last longer. As an extra bonus, Lapin made his valve fluted so that the whipped cream came out with a swirly pattern!

After Lapin became the whipped cream king, he continued to work on further inventions. He developed other aerosol products such as cinnamon margarine in a can and pancake batter in a can. None of these caught on.

Celebrate with a consumer test.

Buy some Reddi-Wip (or another brand of aerosol-canned whipped cream) plus heavy cream you can use to make your own whipped cream. When making your own, add 1/4-cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla to 1 cup of heavy cream. Divide your homemade mixture in half: whip one batch with a wire whisk, and the other with an electric mixer, turned to the highest speed. Don't stop mixing until the cream holds peaks (it will be fairly stiff).

Then use the Reddi-Wip and both kinds of homemade whipped cream on your favorite dessert: an ice cream sundae, pie, or cake. Or just try with some hot cocoa. Which whipped cream looks best? More importantly, which tastes best? Is there any difference in the texture of the whipped cream beat by electric mixer and that beat by hand? If homemade tastes better to you, is it worth the extra time, clean-up, and hassle?

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