I tend to think that Cool Whip is like many other types of convenience foods developed in the 50's, 60's and 70's. They were originally developed to help increase shelf stability and longevity of products for people who otherwise wouldn't have access.
In order to help housewives use the new convenience foods, companies spent a lot of time developing recipes and running contests to get people to use these products. Now a couple of generations later, we grew up with these recipes which are now comfort foods for us. Think layered Jello desserts, Velveeta/Ritz cracker/broccoli casseroles, Campbells Cream of Soup casseroles. A lot of people are figuring out how to remake those recipes with a more whole foods approach, but some them just work better with the ingredients they were developed around.
I cook all the time with whole foods and "real" ingredients....but you all have me craving my Grandma's famous potluck dessert. Pineapple dream "salad." Consisting of cool whip, canned pineapple, and a few other things over a graham cracker crust. Grandma is long gone, and that dessert is not at all healthy, but its nostalgic and reminds me of spending summer evenings at her house. She would make fabulous garden dinners with all sorts of fresh veggies from her huge garden (mmm...new potatoes, homegrown tomatoes that would make you weep, squash etc.) and proudly served Pineapple Dream salad to us.