Did they have whipped cream in the olden days before electricity? I think that they might have. I'm sure I've seen a portrait of Henry VIII munching some of that creamy goodness before.
But what on earth caused someone to whisk cream for hours to see what would happen? Is there any scientific basis to it? For example, "Well I know if I whisk this cream, theoretically it should thicken up." Or was it just some super bored peasant folk who discovered it? Perhaps an argument between a peasant wife and a peasant worker, "I am going to take this fork to this cream and stir it for ages to make an annoying noise!"
Another example is beating eggs - why bother when intuition would probably tell us we are wasting our time?