Usually, when someone in the family asks for 'whipped cream' to put on their dessert, what they really mean is 'nondairy whipped topping.' And that means Cool Whip. After all, who has the time - or talent - to whip cream anymore?
Cool Whip was introduced in 1966, and within a few years became the standard topping for otherwise topless desserts. It was created by General Foods as part of their freezer-oriented Birds Eye division. It was developed as a dessert topping that (a) was reasonably nondairy, and (b) could be frozen for fresh transport cross-country. A chemist named Tommy Finucane (who sounds like a boy genius) came up with the solution, and soon the sweet white stuff was to be found in grocers' aisles across the nation.
Although Cool Whip sales were brisk right from the beginning - after all, it was really the first product of its kind - they really gained momentum during the 1970's when TV commercials featuring a kindly woman named Sarah Tucker began to appear. Mrs. Tucker (we never saw Mr. Tucker - perhaps his body was lying frozen under all that whipped goodness) ran a bed-and-breakfast, and was perfectly happy serving her guests Cool Whip on their otherwise made-from-scratch desserts. And if it was good enough for her hoity-toity, yuppie out-of-towner guests, surely it was good enough for us peons in the flyover states.
Cool Whip is nondairy in that it contains no milk or cream, nor any real lactose, but it does contain milk-derived proteins. Its other main ingredients are water and two kinds of corn syrup. Other available flavors (as of this writing) are chocolate and French vanilla.
Marge Redmond, the actress who played Mrs. Tucker, was a nun in The Flying Nun and for a time was a regular on Matlock. She can still be found in occasional movie and TV roles.