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. One likely scenario is where someone in a cool climate was making butter, but being in a hurry, whipped the cream rather than churning it. A common folk tale tells of a fast horse ride with a half filled container of cream.
The first well known reference to it was when the French chef, Vatel created a variation with sugar to serve at a reception to honor King Louis the 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 flavorings include brandies or liqueurs and orange.
In the 1930’s, British scientists started developing aeration systems for use in the food industry. They soon developed a working system using pressurized N2O (Nitrous Oxide). N2O immerses fully into dairy products such as cream, causing instant whipped cream when the pressure is released. Hand held units suitable for home use were developed as well as larger commercial systems.
After World War II, American companies began manufacturing whipped cream dispensers. Many never developed quality systems and some companies discontinued production. The introduction of disposable, one use cans in the 50’s caused the closing of most of those that were left.
The waste from disposable cans has always been considered undesirable, even in the wasteful time period it was developed. The nature of the system always left some cream in the can when the N2O had been used up. The waste of the can itself was hardly an issue at that time. The convenience was considered to far outweigh the disadvantage of waste.
In today’s ecologically aware 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, ecologically safer, and less expensive than disposable pressurized cans.