Here’s a good summer dessert: Literally any fruit, plus Cool Whip. Hear me out!
Cool Whip is not in keeping with the current trends in food. It is “whipped topping,” a suspiciously specific phrasing that is definitely not the same thing as “whipped cream.” It is, unquestionably, midcentury manufactured space food—dangerously Tang-adjacent. In fact, it was invented by the same man. From Food52:
2016 marks Cool Whip’s 50th anniversary (and that’s true even for those of you who wouldn’t touch a tub with a 10-foot pole). It was invented during this week in 1966 by food scientist Dr. William A. Mitchell—who worked for General Foods Corporation between 1941 and 1976 and was the key deviser behind Pop Rocks, Tang, quick-set Jell-O, and powdered egg whites for cake mix, and who received over 70 patents during his career (smart guy!).
It is unquestionably inferior to proper homemade whipped cream, which is semi-liquid heaven. The ingredients are enough to make Michael Pollan break out into a cold sweat, including two different kinds of corn syrup.
You know what else it is? Almost unbelievably easy and, frankly, delicious on a moderately hot day. (Anything over 95 degrees of course requires nothing heavier than popsicles or, maybe, a chilled key lime pie.)
Just put it on literally any fruit you happen to have lying around, and you have a summer dessert. It’s perfect for someone like yours truly, who has a toddler and therefore an entire quadrant of her fridge permanently dedicated to blueberries and strawberries. Have you ever put Cool Whip on fresh sliced peaches? Maybe with some pound cake pieces in there? Stick that in the fridge and remove once it’s all chilled. Incredible.
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Sure, in a perfect world, all of my food would be lovingly handcrafted from simple, nature-made ingredients. Unfortunately, my actual life demands a certain amount of Sandra Lee-style “semi-homemade” shortcutting, and Cool Whip is a reliable addition to one’s bag of tricks, as long as you use it right. Don’t put it with ice cream, for instance—the similarity will just highlight the fact that Cool Whip is space food. Stick to fruit, and the fruit should be fresh or at least fresh frozen—canned peaches just aren’t as good.
Not Reddi Wip, though. I do have some standards.