Robert Rich, inventor of frozen non-dairy topping, died on February 15th, aged 92. His obituary is an fun read into an area of food I never thought much about:
Few revolutions have been made with a hand-beater. But Mr Rich's was one. Before he began to experiment with flaking and precipitating soyabeans, whipped cream was a hit-or-miss affair. It would not keep, especially in the humid South. Nor would it freeze. Over-beating produced a buttery mess, and ambitious decorations sank gradually into gloop. To top it all, in wartime, heavy whipping cream was a banned substance. All available milk was needed fresh for the people, or dried and condensed for the troops. To dream of an éclair or a cream puff, even of a modest dollop nestling a cherry or topping off a sundae, was close to a traitorous act.