What is Cool Whip? It's the topping slathered on pies, strawberries, ice cream sundaes, and other sweet treats enjoyed by millions each year. But what else do we really know about it? The iconic dessert accessory was first developed in the 1960s by Dr. William Mitchell, who was a food chemist for General Foods. The whipped cream wannabe gained quick popularity when it presented itself to hopeful housewives as an easy add-on to sweets.


Today, Cool Whip is still widely popular. But, just as in the case of many of the foods lining the grocery shelves, its ingredients are a bit of a mystery. The original Cool Whip is composed of 12 different ingredients. Here’s a rundown on some of the most interesting.

Hydrogenated Oil

Although slightly better for you than partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fat, experts say hydrogenated oil still isn't good for you. It's often put into foods in order to give them a longer shelf life.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This sweet syrup is used as a sugar substitute in many sodas and fruit drinks. Like common table sugar, it has been shown to increase the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Sodium Caseinate

Sodium caseinate is a type of protein found in the milk of all types of mammals. You can find it as a food additive in many types of commercial dairy products. Most manufacturers use sodium caseinate to thicken products and add texture. 

chocolate, pie, cream, caramel
Jayna Goldstein

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Way to be specific, right? To sum it up, natural and artificial flavors are basically any type of chemical used to make a product taste better. These flavorings can be have up to 100 ingredients.

Xanthan and guar gums

These ingredients are used as thickening and binding agents in many foods. But, in large amounts, they can act as a laxative or can cause bowel obstruction.

Polysorbate 60

Many manufacturers include this additive to keep foods from going stale. It is also often used in cosmetic products. 

Sorbitan Monostearate

AKA “synthetic wax” (what?), sorbitan monostearate is used to keep water and oils mixed in certain foods

Although easy to whip out and serve with desserts, the ingredients list of Cool Whip isn’t so simple. In other words, you may just want to stick to getting leftovers from your grandma in those Cool Whip containers instead of the real thing and try to make your own whipped cream instead.