Lori Gitomer wondered why her New York City home has suddenly become the most popular spot for playdates for her children and their friends.
The refrigerator filled with nothing but whipped cream might be why.
Gitomer ’01, her sister, Tracy Luckow ’99, and Elissa Harman founded Whipnotic at the end of 2019 with the goal of disrupting the whipped cream industry.
With the help of Cornell, Whipnotic is already making waves and hitting grocery store shelves.
The whimsical can design showcases delectable flavors like vanilla salted caramel, fudge brownie, strawberry swirl and peach mango – all swirled into the whipped cream with the touch of a button on the specially designed nozzle.
Whipnotic first connected with the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture (COE) and Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC) in the fall of 2020 and began working together in February 2021.
They knew they had a winning product on their hands but needed to fine-tune the recipe and can design. The COE identified the types of equipment needed and connected Whipnotic with a manufacturer for a filling device, provided space for Whipnotic in the COE’s incubator kitchen at the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show and provided guidance and consultation as the company prepared for its test run at the CFVC Pilot Plant earlier this year.
Whipnotic also tapped into the network of Cornell experts to ensure that their hazard analysis and critical control points (HAACP) plan was ironclad.
“We’re getting so much advice and help from both Cornell alumni and from Cornell AgriTech and the COE,” Gitomer said.
Whipnotic hits the shelves
What started as napkin sketches soon became full-fledged ideas, which soon became prototypes and trials at the pilot plant – which is how that fridge at Gitomer’s house became filled with so many prototype cans.
With the guidance and support of the CFVC and COE, Whipnotic grew from making 100-can pilot batches to the large, 7,000-can batches needed to supply their growing demand.
Cittarella Gourmet Market stores in New York and Connecticut began stocking Whipnotic on June 21. They sold out within hours. The sisters said that by the end of July, Whipnotic will be carried by The Fresh Market, the North Carolina-based supermarket chain with locations all down the East Coast.
By the end of the summer, cans of Whipnotic will be for sale at more than 200 stores across 22 states, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that at the beginning of 2022, they were still developing the can’s technology and hadn’t approached any stores about carrying their products.
How it began
Gitomer said the idea for Whipnotic dates to her childhood and her lifelong love of whipped cream. After having her first child, she began focusing on nutrition, which is when she noticed that many diet plans approved whipped cream as a low-calorie dessert.
The welcome news rekindled her love for the sprayable sweet, but there was something missing.
“I wanted to make whipped cream more interesting,” Gitomer said.
Gitomer called her sister, her “first phone-a-friend in work and life,” to share her idea. Luckow has spent over two decades in the food industry, including stints as senior management at Pepsi, Dannon and Sabra Dipping Company.
They knew they wanted Whipnotic to be low-calorie and keto-friendly, with only natural ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup. Each two-tablespoon serving has 15 calories and one gram of sugar.
“We looked at whipped cream that has stayed the same for 75 years and cleaned it up,” Gitomer said. “Not only does Whipnotic bring innovation to the category, but it brings new occasions.”
Luckow was at Dannon when she saw Greek-style yogurt explode in popularity into the household staple it is today. She thought about how they could do the same for whipped cream.
The Cornell connection
It appears they’re on their way. Luckow said that as of June 26, Whipnotic is being sold over 50 times faster than the category average for similar whipped cream products, a success they credit the CFVC and COE for playing an instrumental role.
“Cornell helped shape every decision that we made,” said Luckow, who studied food science at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Literally every single aspect of this has been touched and improved by the amazing, brilliant minds at Cornell.”
“It’s incredibly special for us to have connectivity to Cornell,” she said, adding that their father, brother and uncle are also Cornell grads. “Cornell has been in our lifeline before we even arrived on West Campus as freshmen.”
Gitomer worked in media and sales prior to launching Whipnotic and said that while she and her sister have worked together a few times in their past careers, starting a company together took things to a whole new level.
“Our mom said either we’d kill each other, or we’d find a way to become even closer,” Luckow said, laughing.
Luckily for them and Whipnotic, the experience has only drawn them closer together.
“I can’t imagine doing this with anyone besides Lori,” Luckow said.
Jacob Pucci is the marketing and communications coordinator for the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech.
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