Don’t panic, but a whipped-cream shortage is imminent

Topless desserts.
Topless desserts.
Image: AP Photos/Amy Sancetta
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More desserts are expected to show up topless at US holiday parties this year—the result of a whipped cream shortage.

That’s because canned whipped-cream companies that rely on nitrous oxide are still reeling from an August explosion in the loading dock of an Airgas plant in Cantonment, Florida, according to the Chicago Tribune. The blast killed one person and sent a plume of mustard-colored smoke rising from the facility. As a result, cans of ready-made whipped creams, including brands such as Reddi wip and Cool Whip, will be tougher to find in supermarkets.

Nitrous oxide is used for whipped creams, but is also common in many medical supplies, which have gotten priority as the facility has been repaired. Many grocery stores have said they have plenty of whipped cream in stock, but that if sales pick up as expected, a shortage will be imminent.

Putting products in aerosol canisters first became a reality in 1946, when the Crown Cork and Seal Company invented a lithographed and lined can. Whipped cream was first offered in spray-can form that same year by Aaron S. Lapin in St. Louis, Missouri. Within five years of creating the novelty product—known as Reddi wip—Lapin became a millionaire, and was dubbed the “whipped cream king.”

For those who don’t get their hands on canned cream this year, worry not. Whipped cream is a two-ingredient recipe, and can be created at home in less than five minutes.