Don’t Cry Over the Whipped Cream Shortage. Instead, Do This

Don’t Cry Over the Whipped Cream Shortage. Instead, Do This
Debbi Smirnoff

If you’re a fan of a delicious dollop of cool whipped cream on your holiday pies and hot toddies (and who isn’t?), you may have heard some disturbing news.

We’re facing a whipped cream shortage, right at the best time of year to eat the stuff.

But before you get your long johns in a twist, I have a secret for you: It’s not the actual whipped cream we’re missing -- it’s nitrous oxide.

And that means whipped cream is actually well within your reach, if you’re willing to put in a modicum of effort.

Better yet? Homemade whip costs just about the same amount as the pre-made stuff.

And it’s so much better, I promise you’ll never go back.

It’s Only a Whipped Cream Shortage If You Don’t Eat Real Whipped Cream

The shortage stems from an August accident at an Airgas chemical plant in Florida, where two gas tankers and a nitrous oxide holding tank exploded, according to the Washington Post.

Nitrous oxide is pumped into a pressurized can of cream to instantly make it airy, light and -- *shudder* -- squirtable, if you’re into that sort of thing.

And since Airgas is a major supplier of food industry giant Conagra, this snafu spells curtains for the nation’s instant whip supply.

I have to admit, my first reaction to the news was to scoff. Reddi-wip is to whipped cream as Cheez Whiz is to actual cheddar, as far as I’m concerned.

But if you’re an unapologetic fan of the canned stuff -- or if you’ve never operated an electric mixer -- let me lay down some numbers that may change your mind.

At my local Publix, a 13-ounce can of Reddi-wip costs $4.79 and claims to contain 74 two-tablespoon servings. And according to those laws of supply and demand we learned in high school, if anything, that cost will go up in the face of the shortage.

A 32-ounce carton of heavy whipping cream, on the other hand, costs $5.19.

Those 32 ounces translate to four cups of liquid cream. And one cup of liquid cream doubles up into at least two cups of whipped cream, for a total of eight cups of whipped cream out of the carton.   

There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, or eight of Reddi-wip’s two-tablespoon “servings” -- though I defy you to only eat two tablespoons of whipped cream at a time.

That means you’ll get a total of 64 two-tablespoon servings out of the carton.

So no, homemade whipped cream isn’t technically more cost-effective…

… but you’re talking about a difference of just 2 cents per serving. (One serving of Reddi-wip costs 6 cents; one serving of homemade costs 8 cents.)

And the difference in quality? Totally priceless.

All you have to do is apply a little bit of elbow grease.

Plus, you can make your homemade whip as sweet (or not) as you like, or get creative and add in your favorite flavor. Try a bit of coffee to make espresso whipped cream for your chocolate cake or a dash of nutmeg to spice up that pumpkin pie.

Not to mention the difference in texture. While canned whipped cream is fluffy and thin, homemade whip is mouth-coating and densely luscious, transforming even plain old berries into a decadent dessert. You’ll want to eat it with a spoon.

Anyway, I’ll stop gushing. Suffice to say: If you’ve never had homemade whipped cream, you’re missing out.

And if you want any whipped cream at all this holiday season, you’ll probably have to break out your beater.

As more nitrous oxide becomes available, companies purchasing it for medical applications -- surely a better use for nitrous oxide than “whipped cream” -- will get priority access to the goods.

And if you’re still devoted to your Reddi-wip (why??), don’t worry: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

According to a statement by the Purchasing Association of Private Clubs, Conagra should return to its normal supply, and therefore canned-cream production, by mid-January 2017.

Your Turn: Seriously, why are you still eating canned whipped cream?

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’ll try not to judge you for the Reddi-wip, but come on, really?