When a pumpkin pie hits a table, it will almost certainly be paired with whipped cream. The question is, will that cream come from a tub like Cool Whip? Or perhaps it's real homemade stuff made with beaten and sweetened cream. Or maybe it's the most fun way to dispense whipped cream, out of an aerosol can.

The person who gave the world whipped cream in a can is a proud Michigander. Here's his story.

Ernest "Sam" Boyd was a native of the Grand Rapids area attending Wyoming Park High School in the late 1930s then graduating from Michigan State in 1942. True to the college's Moo U reputation, Boyd went into dairy and food science. According to a family history shared on the If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids/Kent County,then you remember.... Facebook group, Boyd and a colleague were the ones who invented the process to make whipped cream flow from an aerosol can.

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As one commentator shared, "my dogs thank him." Dogs and kids (and kids at heart) all do, for sure.

The Complicated History of Whipped Cream in a Can

End of the story and another win for the ingenuity of Michiganders? No so fast, my friend. There are several claims on the invention of whipped cream in a can.

CBSNews tells the story of Aaron Lapin from St Louis who is credited with creating the process and turned his innovation into the product that dominates the cream in a can industry, Reddi-Whip.

The University of Illinois claims they are the creators of whipped cream in a can, however. The school claims an earlier invention date as well:

Spray whipped cream or “Instantwhip” was invented at the University of Illinois during the depression by Charles Getz, a graduate student in the Chemistry Department and student of Professor George Frederick Smith. Getz found that milk would foam if pressurized carbon dioxide was forced into it. This led to the compressing of whip cream into a container under pressure.

Getz found that the carbon dioxide altered the taste of the whip cream. After numerous experiments, he discovered that nitrous oxide was the solution to the problem because it did not change the taste of the whip cream like carbon dioxide. This led to the evolution of instant whip cream in a can in the early 1930s. Professor G. Frederick Smith then used Getz’s patented method to create Instantwhip Foods.

Hmm. What to think? No matter who gets credit for the innovation, whipped cream in a can has a dark side.

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The Strange Names and Dangerous Application of Spray Can Whipped Cream

It's not just a dessert topping where the whipped cream is popular. The use of nitrous oxide in the can has been misused as a drug. Commonly called a whippit. The National Institute of Health tells of the effects of

prolonged use of nitrous oxide [which] can have disabling neurological sequelae due to functional inactivation of vitamin B12.

Of the NIH's studies, one whipped abuser was left unable to walk without the assistance of a cane while another nitrous abuser was confined to a wheelchair.

So while whippits may sound fun, the abuse of the drug is serious business.

Because spraying cream from a can onto dessert is fun, the can has developed several names over the years. Wikipedia says several names are used for the product: skooshy cream in Scotland, and squirty cream, spray cream and aerosol cream elsewhere.

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See How School Cafeteria Meals Have Changed Over the Past 100 Years

Using government and news reports, Stacker has traced the history of cafeteria meals from their inception to the present day, with data from news and government reports. Read on to see how various legal acts, food trends, and budget cuts have changed what kids are getting on their trays.

Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer

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