The Unexpected Connection Between Steak 'N Shake And Cool Whip

There's a real link between the home of the Steakburger and one of the most popular brands of ready-made whipped topping in the United States. No, it has nothing to do with Steak 'N Shake hand-dipped milkshakes, either, even though those normally do come with whipped topping and a maraschino cherry. Mental Floss explains how the connection between Cool Whip and Steak 'N Shake is actually more about business moves and timing than culinary pairings. This same connection also links Steak 'N Shake to other well-known food brands like A1 Steak Sauce, Grey Poupon mustard, Klondike Bars, and Tang.

While diners are likely familiar with popular Steak 'N Shake menu items like the iconic Double Steakburger, the secret of what connects the restaurant chain to all these food brands isn't as well-known. It's all about a titan of the food industry that saw Steak 'N Shake as an opportunity and acted on it.

Meet the company behind a lot of beloved foods

Mental Floss summarizes how the move in question occurred in 1981. Steak 'N Shake was struggling to turn a profit before its founder, the Franklin Corporation, sold it to Consolidated Products that year. The Los Angeles Times reports that Consolidated Products made E. W. "Ed" Kelley the co-chairman of Steak 'N Shake after the acquisition. Kelley already had a strong reputation in the food industry. His work made items like A1, Cool Whip, Grey Poupon, Klondike, and Tang household names in America (via Mental Floss). Kelley once again worked his magic in the food industry with Steak 'N Shake.

The Los Angeles Times also says that under Kelley's leadership, the number of Steak 'N Shake restaurants went from 125 when he took over to over 400 across the country. Restaurant News also credits Kelley as the brainchild behind the restaurant's resurgence in the early 21st century. Throughout his career, it seems that every food product Kelley touched turned to gold. Consumers have him to thank for both Cool Whip and Steak 'N Shake among many other things.