Non-dairy creamers or coffee whiteners are liquid or granular substances intended to substitute for milk or cream as an additive to coffee or other beverages. They do not contain lactose and therefore are commonly described as not being dairy products, although many contain casein, a milk-derived protein.
The first commercial powdered creamer was "Pream," first marketed in 1952 and made from dehydrated cream and sugar. It had the problem of not dissolving easily because of the protein in the milk. Six years later, in 1958, the Carnation Company developed a product that easily dissolved in hot liquid because it replaced most of the milk fat with vegetable oil, and reduced the milk protein. The new product was marketed under the Carnation label with the brand name Coffee-Mate.
To replicate the mouthfeel of milk fats, nondairy creamers often contain hydrogenated vegetable-based fats, although nonfat nondairy creamers/whiteners also exist. Other common ingredients include solidified corn syrup and other sweeteners or/and flavourings (such as French vanilla and hazelnut); as well as sodium caseinate, a milk protein derivative (from casein) that does not contain lactose. The use of a milk derivative prompts some individuals and organisations - such as vegans and Jewish dietary law authorities - to classify the product as "dairy" rather than nondairy. Those who rely on this classification will either not consume the product (e.g. vegans) or will not use or consume it in conjunction with any meat products (e.g. observant Jews).
As with many other powders, non-dairy creamer is susceptible to dust explosion when suspended in air. Amateur filmmakers and pyrotechnicians have taken advantage of this property to produce several types of fireball effects.
Coffee creamer has also been used to whiten clothes (after mixing it with water to form a soaking solution), defoam fish tanks, and clean dry erase boards, as well as for creating fake snow in television and movies.
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- "Detonation Films - Why Coffee Creamer?". Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "How to Make Coffee Creamer Fireballs". Retrieved September 29, 2013.