The Whoopie Pie War

This personal-sized dessert is the subject of an interstate dispute.

There’s a dessert war going on here on the east coast, and it’s all over the whoopie pie. Yes, that little chocolate cake and frosting dessert has been the cause of a fair amount of controversy in the past few weeks.

The fighting began at the beginning of the month when the Maine state legislature began discussing making the whoopie pie the official state dessert. An article in the Boston Globe declared the controversy came when Representative Donald Pilon refused to support the bill, asking:

At a time when 31.3 percent of Maine’s children are considered overweight or obese, do we want to glorify a dessert that lists lard as its primary ingredient?

Pilon wasn’t the only dissenter. Apparently, a group of Maine fourth graders sent letters to the legislature arguing that the whoopie pie is more of a snack than a dessert, and also pointing out that perhaps the state dessert should include blueberries, because they are healthier.

An article in Augusta’s Kennebec Journal explained that wild blueberry farmers didn’t want to contest the whoopie pie’s nomination for fear of starting a “food fight.”

That article goes on to mention Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, which is famous for its giant whoopie pies, and which claims to have invented the creation in 1925.

All of this public, in-state fighting led to citizens of Lancaster County, Pa., to enter the argument by claiming the Amish were the first to create the dessert sandwich. An article in the Wall Street Journal stated that the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitor’s Bureau posted a petition online called “Save Our Whoopie!”

Amos Orcutt, founder of the Maine Whoopie Pie Association and lobbyist for the Maine bill, responded by saying that he was “appalled and aghast” by such claims. These comments only served to inflame the Pennsylvania supporters, and so, a few days later, they retaliated by organizing a rally on Facebook.

According to another Boston Globe article yesterday, some residents were planning a “Rally to Save Our Whoopie” today. After checking out the Facebook event, it looks like the rally actually took place, though I’m unclear on how many people attended. Here is a picture a local TV station took of the organizers.

Hopefully this event is the last escalation of an argument that seems to have started on pretty shaky ground. Can the two sides compromise? In the latest Globe article, Orcutt seemed to think they could if everyone stuck to regional dialect: Pennsylvanians can call them “gobs” and Mainers get to keep calling them “whoopie pies.”

The point may be moot anyway. In the Wall Street Journal article, Nancy Griffin, author a book on the history of the pie, claims that the first traceable rendition was created in Syracuse, NY.

The Maine legislature seems to have come up with a solution to the debate over whether the whoopie pie is the best, healthiest option for the title of “official dessert” – lawmakers agreed to amend the bill to make the whoopie pie Maine’s official state treat. The amendment still has to go to a vote before the full Legislature.

The majority of Americans probably don’t care where the whoopie pie originated as long as they can eat one. Looking to make something beyond the original? CakeSpy has a very inventive recipe for her Elvis Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie, and Oh My! Sugar High has a more romantic recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherry Whoopie Pies.

Photo (cc) by joyosity under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Baking and Health, Dessert Debates, Recipes, Whoopie Pies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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