Holiday Whipped Cream Shortage Has Tragic Backstory

Reddi-wip's aerosol can is in short supply due to a deadly industrial accident.

It seems that every year, around this time, there’s a shortage of some product and everyone overemphasizes the importance of said product to their holiday traditions.

This year, that product is Reddi-Wip and its competing whipped creams in cans, not because the delicious confectionary topping is on backorder but because it’s method of delivery – the aerosol can – is in short supply.

And the backstory is no laughing matter. In August, a serious explosion occurred at an Airgas plant in Florida, where a nitrous oxide holding tank sat near two tankers in a loading bay. One Airgas employee was actually killed in the catastrophe and the other, albeit less significant result, is that – months later—there is still a nitrous oxide shortage. Nitrous oxide is the gas used as a propellant for the “aerosol whipped topping,” so there you have it. Or, more accurately, you don’t have it.

A spokesperson for ConAgra, who owns the Reddi-Wip brand, told CBS News that some stores are already short, where others aren’t experiencing any effects so far. Still, they encourage shoppers to stock up early.

According to Airgas, nitrous oxide has many medical uses, and as they work to ramp up supply, medical customers are getting priority – not your hot cocoa.