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Dr. William A. Mitchell was the Bright Mind Behind Pop Rocks, Tang and Cool Whip

Dr. William A. Mitchell was an American food chemist who worked for General Foods Corporation between 1941 and 1976. During his entire career, he was able to register about 70 patents. But do you know what else he invented that is quite popular today?

Dr. William A. Mitchell was a food chemist from the United States who created Pop Rocks, Tang, Cool Whip, and many other products on his own while he worked for the Genreal Foods Corporation.

Who was William A. Mitchell?

William A. Mitchell was born on a farm in Raymond, Minnesota, in 1911. He worked as a teenager for the American Sugar Beet Company, running sugar crystallization tanks. He’d get a few hours of sleep before heading to high school. Consider this moment: he worked a full-time night shift while attending high school. He worked as a carpenter to pay his way through college at Cotner College in Lincoln, Nebraska. The University of Nebraska then awarded him a master’s degree in chemistry.

After graduating from college, he secured a research position at an Agricultural Experiment Station. He was involved in a lab accident that left him with second and third-degree burns on most of his body.

Mitchell began his career with General Foods in 1941. Tapioca was one of the many food items in short supply during World War II due to the Pacific War. Mitchell’s first big hit, a tapioca substitute, came this year. This invention thickened a large portion of the food that soldiers ate. They dubbed it “Mitchell mud” with affection.

He went on to have many breakthroughs after that. His most well-known inventions were Pop Rocks, Cool Whip, and Tang. In addition, he invented quick-set Jell-O and powdered egg whites. Mitchell had a long and prosperous career. He had seven children. One of his daughters went on to become a food scientist as well.

Mitchell died on July 26, 2004, at 92, in Stockton, California. (Source: Toasty Kettle)

The Invention of Cool Whip

In 1966, Mitchell invented the Cool Whip. At the time, the main advantage of this product was that it could be distributed frozen. Every year, nearly 200 million tubs of the stuff are sold.

Cool Whip is a fake whipped cream topping and appeared to be a recurring theme in Mitchell’s inventions. It was initially marketed as a dairy-free product. It now contains skim milk. 

Kraft Foods currently owns the Cool Whip brand, which is known to be the most popular whipped topping brand in the United States. (Source: Toasty Kettle)

The Invention of Tang

Mitchell created Tang in 1957. It was first sold as a powder in 1959. Tang is an orange drink made by combining powder with water. The sales were not as great as they hoped they would be.

Tang’s breakthrough came in 1962 when NASA used it on John Glenn’s Mercury flight. Tang became almost synonymous with the space program due to its use on that and subsequent missions.

Soda companies later sent special soda cans into orbit with astronauts on later space missions. Many people preferred Tang because it could be mixed in existing water containers. Kraft Foods also owns Tang. It was named the company’s twelfth billion-dollar brand in 2011. (Source: Toasty Kettle)

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