Cool Whip was introduced in 1967 by the Birds Eye division of General Foods. Within two years of introduction, it became the largest and most profitable product in the Birds Eye line of products. Birds Eye later merged with Kraft Foods and Philip Morris, eventually becoming part of Altria Group.
Cool Whip technology was invented by William A. Mitchell, a food chemist at General Foods Corporation. The key to the technology was the creation of a whipped cream-like product that could be distributed in a frozen state by General Foods and grocery chains and kept in the refrigerator. This had never been done before and represented a major breakthrough in food preservation.
Cool Whip is manufactured in Avon, New York, for the United States and Canadian markets. It is sold in 8 oz. (226 g) and larger plastic tubs produced by Berry Plastics and is distributed through grocery outlets in a frozen state, and is refrigerated in the home prior to serving. Each nine gram serving provides 25 kcal (104650 J) of which 15 kcal (62790 J) are fat.
The varieties currently sold are: Original, Extra Creamy, French Vanilla, Light, Reduced Fat, Free [fat-free], and Sugar-Free. Strawberry is sold seasonally, typically in the summer. Chocolate has now been reintroduced as well. In Canada. the Fat-Free variety is labeled as "Ultra-low Fat".
In 2008, Cool Whip also introduced a spray can alternative to their tubbed product.
According to a recent Wired Magazine article, consumers are paying 41 cents per ounce for mostly water and air: twice the cost of homemade whipped cream.
The bluegrass satire band Austin Lounge Lizards ridicules "a treat made from chemicals" in their song "Kool Whip."