This 1930s Family Is High On Laughing Gas Pie

Illustration for article titled This 1930s Family Is High On Laughing Gas Pie

Humans love to get high. So much so that people were recreationally using nitrous oxide (commonly called "laughing gas") for nearly a century before it was used as an anaesthetic. So when chemists in the 1930s started proposing the use of nitrous oxide in consumer products like whipped cream canisters, some people naturally assumed that the end result would be rampant casual drug use.


The October 1935 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics included this illustration showing a family of the future getting high just by eating their dessert. The caption to the illustration admitted that although their meringue pie was "stuffed with laughing gas" it was a bit of an exaggeration—the effect of adding nitrous oxide to the canister "isn't quite so strong."

From the magazine:

Chemists plan to market a new type of household convenience — an automatic cream whip and container. The cream is shaken up with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) under pressure, and flows out fluffily when the button is pressed.

Much like many innovations of the Great Depression, the whipped cream canister wouldn't come into common usage in the United States until after World War II. And, perhaps to the chagrin of pie-fiends everywhere, it turned out that the whipped cream itself didn't actually get you high.

Which is for the best. As a quick aside, doing whippits is just about the dumbest drug choice of all time. It does a lot of damage to your body for an extremely short-lived high. Unlike the many other fantastic drugs in the world, whippits aren't worth even trying. Then again, neither is lemon meringue pie.

Image: scanned from the October 1935 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics


Matt Novak

I really didn't mean to turn this into a debate on drugs. Do all the drugs. Please.