I Paid: $5.69 for a 7-ounce can (prices may vary by region)
Frequent readers of this column know that I have a weakness for vegetarian and vegan imitations of real food. These products are always perceptibly different, and they usually fall short, but watching where and how they swerve from their inspirations—and how the packaging reflects the compromises—never ceases to be interesting. And it's often amusing.
Take, then, the case of Soyatoo! Soy Whip and Rice Whip. Both of these whipped cream imitators are comparatively low-calorie, dairy-free, and cholesterol-free, and the Rice Whip is even soy-free. (I guess Soy Whip is rice-free, if we're keeping score.)
It seemed relatively clear that these suckers were going to fall short of the richness and sweetness of their dairy counterparts, but by how much?
By quite a lot, that's how much. Writing as an open-minded dude who has permanently ditched his morning half-and-half for a coconut-milk-based creamer, these whips are a solid disappointment. First of all: They're meant to be stored in the fridge. But! And this is an important but, they need to be thawed at room temperature before they can be used. The Rice Whip in particular stayed in a clunky block for a solid 30 minutes before it finally loosened up enough to be propelled as a foam. What percentage of whipped cream uses is impulse? It varies from person to person, but in my household it's pretty high. Ain't no thawing standing between any respectable American and an ice cream sundae.
The thawing thing could be overcome, however, if the stuff was delicious. It's not delicious. The Soy Whip is strongly nutty and doesn't add much, if any, creamy texture to hot cocoa, for example. It's also not particularly sweet. The Rice Whip, once finally thawed out, has an odor reminiscent of those packing peanuts that dissolve in water. Sweetened with what must have been only a few dozen molecules of rice syrup, it cries out for vanilla and sugar. To the credit of both whips, however, the light, fluffy texture is pretty good, and the sound they make coming out of the can ("PFFFFFSSHHHPFFFSH") is just about right. Too little, too late, though—if it's not something that can be merrily sprayed on a dessert, it can take a hike, particularly at more than $5 a can. That said: A little flavor tinkering could, for future iterations, really go a long way.