Appeals to young people and is cheaper than most liquor
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Remember overindulging on Thanksgiving — that pumpkin pie with a huge dollop of whipped topping? Picture that creamy froth infused with 15 to 18 percent alcohol and plopped atop a Jello shooter, and it’s not hard to imagine the potential for overindulgence to become overdose.
That’s the concern of many alcohol industry watchdogs as so-called “Whipahol” products such as Cream in a Canister and Whipped Lightning gain popularity, especially among college age drinkers.
“One of the problems relative to this particular product is because it masks the taste of alcohol,” Dr. Vaughn Rickert, Indiana University Director of Adolescent Medicine, told the media.
Flavors ranging from chocolate and caramel to hazelnut, tropical passion and strawberry colada hide an alcohol content about three times that found in beer. Plus, they are often added as a topping to shots or other alcoholic drinks, so the percentage of alcohol taken in rises quickly.
Rickert said another danger is that the product can be used in combination with nitrous oxide abuse. People who engage in huffing can not only get high from the affects from the aerosol, but can then top it off with the product as well.
“It’s never been easier to ingest alcohol. It’s sweetened, shaken, stirred, chilled, gelled, mixed, mashed, candied, caffeinated, vaporized, frozen and now whipped into a creamy froth. It’s no telling what this industry will come up with next,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Unfortunately and not surprisingly, many of these forms are very appealing to children.”
In fact, the Whipped Lightning Web site brags that “Whipped cream’s not just for kids anymore …” Cream’s site urges users to “chose from six passionate whipped cream flavors infused with a 30 proof kick that propels cocktails and mixed drinks to a whole other level.”
Another reason it appeals to young people is that it’s cheaper than most liquor.
However the product is not only catching the attention of drinkers, but of health officials as well. Its rise in popularity comes on the heels of the FDA’s warnings to the makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Four Lokos, whose manufacturer has since removed stimulants from its high-powered brew.
Alcohol control officials in some states, including North Carolina, have kept the door closed to the liquor-laced cream toppings.
“These items were presented to us earlier in the year for ABC Stores. We declined,” said Michael Herring, Chief Administrator of the North Carolina ABC Commission. “Additionally, we do not carry it in the form of a beer or wine product to be sold in grocery stores. We are on the lookout for it in the Beer and Wine Division and have no plans to approve it if submitted. We are also not allowing special orders for the product on the spirit side.”
But just because it’s not approved for sale here, doesn’t mean out-of-state alcohol vendors won’t deliver it to North Carolina via their online shopping sites. The Christian Action League had no trouble placing and receiving an order of chocolate Cream alcohol infused whipped topping.
“ABC has no way to enforce the laws when it comes to cyber shopping, so we would continue, as we have in the past, to warn parents to monitor their children’s Internet use,” said the Rev. Creech. “Kids can order these types of things that appear harmless, and unless shipping companies and parents are vigilant, they’ll be delivered right into their hands.”
The package delivered to a CAL employee was marked “This package contains alcohol,” and the FedEx driver who brought it asked for an adult signature but did not request an ID.
In response to online inquiries regarding Whipped Lightning’s product availability, officials at the company said they hope to present their wares to the state again next fall for potential sales in ABC stores. Contrary to what the ABC reported, Whipped Lightning representatives said the product can be special ordered at liquor stores, but only by the four-pack case.
Creech commended the state ABC Commission for keeping Whipahol at bay and urged them to continue to closely monitor liquor industry offerings. Until 2005 when legislators approved the Pop the Cap bill, North Carolina had a 6 percent limit on alcohol content for malt beverages.
“We knew when the push began to raise the limit that it would open the door to a lot of harmful products and not just high-end specialty beers,” Creech said. “We could have avoided the controversy over the caffeinated alcohol beverages altogether had we not passed Pop the Cap.”
Since 2005, the state has kept the malt beverage alcohol content limit at 15 percent, which would have automatically kept Whipped Lightning off supermarket shelves, but would not have impeded sales of Cream, which is 15 percent alcohol.
“This is one more reason that having a strong ABC system in place is so important to the health and welfare of our citizens,” Creech said. “In a privatized system, it would be much harder to tell independent businesses what they can or can’t market in their own stores.”