The next time you buy a can of whipped cream in New York, be prepared to show some ID.
A little-known state law banning sales of cartridges used in cans of whipped cream to those under 21 has only recently been noticed — and enforced — to the amusement of customers unaware of the not-so-new regulation.
The age limit was enacted nine months ago to curb teens’ possible abuse of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. The nitrous oxide found in whipped cream canisters, when it is abused as a narcotic, is commonly referred to as “whippits” or “whip-its.”
Meghan Massey, 43, couldn’t understand why she was being carded this month at her Hannaford Supermarket in Watertown.
“I thought: ‘What is going on?’ I was looking in my cart. What am I being ID’d for? I was so confused,” a laughing Massey said Monday. “I was mortified. Why am I being ID’d? What is going on right now? I’m 43 with gray hair.”
While Massey was having a laugh, Kent Sopris, the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, or NYACS, isn’t so amused about the regulation, which he claimed is burdening members.
“Requiring age verification when purchasing whipped cream is another classic compliance burden placed on convenience stores in New York State,” he said in a statement.
“We hear constantly how important small businesses are to New York politicians but quite frankly laws like this prove otherwise.”
The age requirement for nitrous oxide cartridges went into effect Nov. 25. But Sopris said it wasn’t until recent weeks that his members became aware of it.
“We did not receive any notice that the bill had been acted upon by the governor — nor did any of our business colleagues,” he added. “When NYACS realized the law was in effect we immediately alerted our membership and advised them of the change in the law.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, sponsor of the bill that became law, said Monday that stores shouldn’t be carding for canned whipped cream.
He said the law targets cartridges sold separately from typical whipped cream cans.
In theory, a youngster could buy a can of Reddi-wip, break it open and remove the cartridge of nitrous oxide, he said, but that’s not his target.
“It’s actually the cartridge or charger” that’s being banned from sale to young people, Addabbo said Monday. “It’s a small 2-inch charger or cartridge. Those are the words in the bill.”
He said of stores carding over canned whipped cream: “That was never the intent of the bill.”
Erica Komoroske, a spokeswoman for Stewart’s Shops based in Ballston Spa, said her company took action in recent weeks only when employees noticed signs on display over canned whipped cream at other stores.
The chain now has hand-drawn signs educating customers about the 21-and-over whipped cream policy.
“I know it does seem silly,” Komoroske said Monday. “But we definitely see that there are certain teenagers that are abusing cans of whipped cream. So on the flip side we see that, as well.”
Matteo Moschella contributed.