History of Non-Dairy Whip Topping, Coffee Creamer, Cottage Cheese, and Icing/Frosting (With and Without Soy) (1900-2013)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-62-4

Publication Date: 2013 Nov. 7

Number of References in Bibliography: 528

Earliest Reference: 1900

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  Brief chronology of non-dairy whip topping, coffee creamer, cottage cheese, and icing/frosting (with or without soy):

      The basic lineage of the U.S. non-dairy industry is: Henry Ford > George Washington Carver Laboratory (established by Henry Ford in Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan) > Bob Rich and Rich Products, Inc. > Holton W. “Rex” Diamond and Frank S. Mitchell (both employees of Rich Products, Inc.) > 40 lawsuits against Rich's non-dairy products by individual states trying to keep these products off the market; Rich Products won all of the suits but one, and paid more than $600,000 in legal fees in the process > The U.S. non-dairy industry is born.
The first wave: The early interest in these non-dairy products took place starting in the late 1800s as urbanization was increasing, ice was still used for refrigeration, and milk – unless consumed fresh on the farm – was a source of pathogens and infectious diseases. Seventh-day Adventists, many of whom consumed no dairy products, were among the pioneers in developing non-dairy products.
Henry Ford disliked cows – and horses: As early as 1921, in an interview published in the New York Tribune (Feb. 9, p. 1, 4), Ford predicted that horses would be replaced by automobiles and tractors. The horse is a "twelve-hundred-pound 'hay motor' of one horse power," he quipped. The milk and meat from cows will be replaced by man-made products. Ford notes: "It is a simple matter to take the same cereals that the cows eat and make them into a milk which is superior to the natural article and much cleaner. The cow is the crudest machine in the world. Our laboratories have already demonstrated that cow's milk can be done away with and the concentration of the elements of milk can be manufactured into scientific food by machines far cleaner than cows and not subject to tuberculosis." [Note: This article was written 10 years before Ford discovered soybeans and soymilk!]
      In the mid-1930s Henry Ford built a soymilk plant in Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Michigan). It was just a demonstration plant that made several hundred gallons of soymilk a day. The plant was part of the larger research effort; none of the milk was sold commercially. With the arrival of World War II, the process was taken by Bob Smith, one of the men who developed it, and used as the basis for a private plant [Delsoy Products] in Dearborn where he sold a lot of soymilk for use in whipped toppings, baked goods and frostings. It was quite successful (Source: Robert Boyer).
      In about July 1942, during World War II, Henry Ford created the George Washington Carver Laboratory in Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Michigan), in honor of George Washington Carver (who shared many of Ford’s beliefs, including those about cows; Carver made milk from peanuts). There Ford assembled a team of scientists to intensify his research on alternatives to dairy products – including soymilk and “soy whip topping.” He served this soymilk to patients in the nearby Ford Hospital, and he offered to give the soymilk recipe to anyone who was interested. Bob Rich was one of the first to accept this offer.
      Whipping cream and World War II: During World War II, whipping cream had not been available to typical American consumers. It was reserved for use by our troops and allies. The dairy industry fought in state after state to prevent “imitations” from gaining a commercial toehold. And Bob Rich fought back, refusing to give up and mounting an aggressive defense, all the while maintaining that his new products were a superior replacement!
      Because cream was such a hugely important product for the dairy industry, the test product soon became Coffee Rich, a non-dairy coffee creamer – which Bob Rich sensitively referred to as a “coffee whitener” in an attempt not to step on the toes of dairy interests. But the dairy industry went to court to enforce the laws in state after state where it was illegal to sell imitation dairy products.
      As recently as the 1970s it was illegal to sell imitation dairy products (such as soymilk, whip topping, or coffee creamer/whitener) in some U.S. states, especially those having a large dairy industry. But today, non-dairy products can be sold freely throughout the United States, so long as the label states clearly that it is not a dairy product.
      Moreover, the market for non-dairy products is growing much faster than the market for dairy products.
1900 – In Every-day Dishes and Every-Day Work, Ella Kellogg, a Seventh-day Adventist and wife of the famous Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, discusses her system of meatless cookery. She notes (p. 166-70) that either peanut butter or almond butter work well as an ingredient in the icing for peanut cake or in almond pound cake.
1904 – In Healthful Cookery: A Collection of Choice Recipes for Preparing Foods, with Special Reference to Health, Ella Kellogg has the earliest known recipe for a non-dairy whipped cream – Almond Whipped Cream (p. 246). She again uses almond butter in the icing of Almond Pound Cake (p. 231).
1919 March 22 – The first recipe for a non-dairy frosting (the British word for “icing”), Peanut Butter Frosting, appears in an article titled “Peanut butter in the diet,” by Mrs. Escoe Ervin (Ohio Farmer, p. 490).
1934 April 8 – Non-dairy “cottage cheese” is first mentioned in the Miami Daily News. Seventh-day Adventist Jethro Kloss (in Miami, Florida) exhibits 21 foods made from soy beans including soy cottage cheese.
1939 – In his classic book Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss has recipes for “Soybean cottage cheese” (made from fermented soybean milk, p. 608) and Soybean cottage cheese loaf.
1941 Dec. 7 – World War II begins for the United States. A War Food Administration (WFA) is created at the federal level and rationing of certain foods (especially meats, dairy products, and oils and fats) begins in late 1942. For example, in Nov. 1942 the WFA issued an order prohibiting the sale of whipping cream in America. This leads to a nationwide push to find nutritious and tasty alternatives.
1942 – The first recipe for a non-dairy soy frosting, Soy Bean Chocolate Frosting (with "2 squares soy bean chocolate," p. 116) appears in a book titled Vegetarian Cookery, by Pietro Rotondi.
1943 – One day the chief purchasing agent of Detroit's Ford Hospital came into Bob Rich's office at the War Food Administration in Detroit in search of additional butter ration points. Rich explained that his job was concerned solely with the diversion of non-essential civilian milk supplies into the production of dry and condensed milk for the U.S. armed forces and for Lend Lease. The purchasing agent replied that the Ford Hospital was not in need of milk. The entire supply of milk and cream was produced in Dearborn, Michigan, by Henry Ford's Carver Laboratory (named after Dr. George Washington Carver) – from soybeans! Those last words sparked what was to become a lifelong interest for Bob Rich. He had never heard of soymilk before – and like Henry Ford, he disliked cows. Rich soon visited the Carver Lab, where he met Rex Diamond.
1943 Dec. 4 – An article titled “Soybean curd makes good cottage cheese substitute” appears in Science News Letter (p. 360).
1944 Aug. – Delsoy, a soymilk-based non-dairy whipped topping is launched by Russell-Taylor Inc. of Dearborn, Michigan. The world’s earliest known whip topping, it had been developed at the Henry Ford’s Carver Laboratory, largely by Bob Smith and Holton W. “Rex” Diamond. The key man behind the new business is Herbert Marshall Taylor. The company, which was renamed Delsoy Products, Inc. by July 1945, did not last long (Detroit News. 1945. April 16).
1945 Jan. – Whip Topping starts to be sold commercially by Rich Products. It was developed by Frank Mitchell of Spencer Kellogg & Sons, with financial backing from Bob Rich. In the early years, when Rich Products Corp. used soy protein as the protein source in its non-dairy products, it obtained the protein from defatted soybean flakes purchased from the Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM). In 1945, Rich Products did $28,000 worth of business, selling only non-dairy products.
1945 April – The term “Whip Topping” is first used (in a document) in a contract between Frank S. Mitchell and Robert E. Rich. The contract begins: "Whereas Mitchell has invented and owns a certain secret formula for the preparation of a substance for human food called 'Whip Topping,' and…”
1945 Sept. – The term “soy whip topping” is first used in a “Cumulative Work Report” of research conducted at the George Washington Carver Laboratory (in Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village) by Holton W. “Rex” Diamond. The Report concerned research from June 1943 to Sept. 1945 in an attempt to find alternatives to dairy products.
      In this same report Diamond first mentions a coffee creamer, which he describes as “a ‘soy cream’ which will not curd in coffee.”
1945 Sept. – Rich Products starts to sell Whip Topping as a frozen product. In the summer of 1945 Bob Rich had accidentally discovered that his liquid Whip Topping could be whipped after being frozen – which dairy cream could not. He had invented the world's first frozen non-dairy whipped cream. This meant that his market was no longer confined to Buffalo, New York. Now he could sell Whip Topping nationwide. Quite by accident Rich Products Corp. had entered the frozen food business.
1946 Jan. – The term “Whip Topping” is first used in print in an ad titled “New frozen food: Whip Topping,” run by Rich Products Corp. of Buffalo, New York. (Quick Frozen Foods, p. 99).
1946 March – The terms “whipped topping” and “coffee whiteners” are first used in a far-sighted article titled “Imitation or Improvement,” by Lawrence E. Doherty (Food Business magazine, p. 22-23, 56).
1946 Nov. 20 – World War II ended about a year ago. Now, with no advance notification, the U.S. government lifts all restrictions on the sale of cream and other dairy products, months before the earliest predicted date for such a move. With regular whipping cream now available, retailers and distributors canceled all orders for Whip Topping. For a while it looked like Rich Products, still a very small and young company might perish. But Bob Rich, his sales staff and advertising agency fought back to develop a new marketing strategy to overcome the product's ersatz wartime image and to play up its many unique attributes. In the end, they succeeded.
1949 – The dairy industry starts to try to prevent Whip Topping from being sold. The first lawsuit is in California.The charge is that Whip Topping is an imitation dairy product, and hence illegal. Rich Products' defense is that their frozen product is not an imitation (which implies inferiority to the real product) but a replacement. Likewise the Model T Ford was clearly a replacement for the horse and buggy, not an imitation. Whip Topping has many definite advantages over its dairy counterpart. Rich Products won the case. Then in 1951 the product was seized again. In the interim, the dairy industry had gotten the state food laws changed and, as Bob Rich recalled, "had done everything but mention Rich Products' name." Rich Products won the 1952 trial, and Judge Bernard Shawman notified the state's attorney general that if he should attack Rich Products at any time in the future, Mr. Rich would have an excellent chance for indemnity against the state. That was the last lawsuit ever brought against Whip Topping.
1950 – Mocha Mix Coffee Creamer, the world’s first non-dairy coffee creamer, is launched by Presto Food Products of Industry, California. It was later renamed Mocha Mix Non-Dairy Creamer.
1956 May – Rich Products adds a completely new formulation of Whip Topping to its line. Developed by Holton W. “Rex” Diamond, it is named Rich’s Whip Topping – The Diamond Process.” It contains no protein. Soy oil is replaced by coconut oil, which had a better flavor.
1956? – Mocha Mate, the world’s second non-dairy coffee creamer, is launched by Mitchell Food, Incorporated of Fredonia, New York.
1957 – The terms “Soy whipped cream,” “Tofu cottage cheese,” and “Homemade tofu cottage cheese,” are first used in print in Sally’s Recipes, by Sally Zerfing.
1961 – Coffee Rich, a liquid non-dairy coffee whitener is launched by Rich Products of Buffalo, New York. On about 18 Oct. 1961 Wisconsin’s State Department of Agriculture issued a holding order to prevent sale of this “vegetable product” in Wisconsin.
1962 Aug. – Rich Products introduces Coffee Rich as a frozen product – a huge breakthrough.
1964 – Perx, a non-dairy coffee lightener, is launched by Mitchell Food, Inc. of Fredonia, New York.
1972 June – At the wedding of Kazuko Aoyagi and Travis Venters at International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo, Gretchen Broadbent makes the wedding cake with whole wheat flour and tofu icing.
1974 – Rich Products, Inc. has won 40 court cases, which cost the company more than $600,000. That year the Kansas Supreme Court declared Coffee Rich "a new and distinct food" and the dairy lobby gave up. Were it not for Bob Rich and his lead attorney, Ellis Arnall (former attorney general and governor of Georgia, 1943-47), non-dairy products might still be illegal in the USA!
1975 Dec. – The terms “Tofu whipped cream” and “Tofu icing” are first used in print in The Book of Tofu by Shurtleff & Aoyagi. A recipe for “Tofu cottage cheese” is also given.
1990 Oct. – Bob Rich’s contributions to the food industry are recognized when he becomes one of the first four inductees into the National Frozen Food Hall of Fame. He receives “a standing ovation which salutes his work as the father of the non-dairy frozen foods segment.”
1999 May – White Wave, Inc. of Boulder, Colorado, launches Silk Soymilk Creamer – a non-dairy, liquid coffee creamer whose main ingredient was soymilk. The product sold so well that French Vanilla flavor was added in March 2000 and Hazelnut in 2002.
1999 – Hip Whip, a tofu-based product is launched by Now & Zen, Inc. of San Francisco, California, which describes it as “The first real food dairy free whipped topping.”
2006 Feb. – Soyatoo Soy Whip: Whipped Soy Topping is developed by Bernd Drosihn and launched by Viana in a pressurized can. By Oct. 2007 it is renamed SoyaToo! Soy Whip.
2006 Feb. 15 – Robert E. “Bob” Rich, age 92, dies at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. His once-small company, Rich Products, Inc. has become an international colossus.
2013 Nov. – Rich Products Corp. now has 7,000 employees and annual sales exceeding $3 billion. While selling 2,000 products across 112 countries, the company is still firmly headquartered in Buffalo, New York, and a major benefactor of the city and region.

The many names of non-dairy whip toppings, coffee creamers, cottage cheese, and icings/frostings (useful for digital searching):


Coffee creamer
Coffee lightener
Coffee whitener
Soybean cottage cheese
Soy cream
Soymilk creamer
Soy whipped cream
Soy “whipped cream”
Soy whipping cream
Tofu cottage cheese
Tofu frosting
Tofu icing
Tofu whipped cream
Tofu whipped topping
Whipped tofu topping
Whipped topping
Whip topping


Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Non-Dairy Whip Topping, Coffee Creamer, Cottage Cheese, and Icing/Frosting (With and Without Soy) (1900-2013)