Business and Labor

The Great Whoopie Pie Controversy

Did the Whoopie Pie originate in New England or Pennsylvania? New England claims the treat as its own, while Pennsylvania argues Amish farmers first made them in their kitchens.

Whoopie Pie

Maine’s official state treat

Food historians may never find the answer, though they do agree the Whoopie Pie originated sometime around the 1920s.

They belong to the same culinary family as Scooter Pies, Moon Pies, Devil Dogs, and Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies. Second cousins are Mallomars and S’mores, according to the Food History Timeline.

They are generally made of two mound-shaped pieces of cake — usually chocolate — sandwiched around a sweet frosting.

Flufferettes

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink attributes New England’s love for the tasty treat to Durkee-Mower, the Lynn, Mass., makers of marshmallow crème.  In the ‘30s Durkee-Mower sponsored a variety show called the Flufferettes on the 21 stations of the Yankee Radio Network.

The final episode featured the Yummy Book, which included recipes for cakes, pies, candies, frostings, the fluffernutter sandwich and the Whoopie Pie.

That makes the Whoopie Pie a sibling of the fluffernutter sandwich, invented by Emma Curtis, Paul Revere’s great-great-great-granddaughter.

Pennsylvanians claim Amish cooks were the first to make them, with extra cake batter sandwiched together with a sweet cream or icing filling. Legend has it that children shouted ‘Whoopie’ when they found them in their lunch pails.

berwick whoopie pieThere’s more than mere legend to support New England’s claim to ownership of the treat. The first known advertisement for the pie dates from 1931 — by the Berwick Cake Co., in the Roxbury section of Boston. The faded letters “Whoopee! Pies” can still be seen on the old brick Berwick building.

In addition, Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine, has been making Whoopie Pies since 1925, according to Jennifer Smith-Mayo and Michael Mayo in Maine Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Pine Tree StateUnfortunately, a fire wiped out documentation of Labadie’s Whoopie-Pie making history.

Honored in Maine

The State of Maine, however, stepped in to lay claim to the confection and in 2011 declared it the official state treat of the State of Maine (the official dessert: the blueberry pie).

Maine canceled its annual Whoopie Pie Festival, scheduled for October 2 in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers rescheduled it for June 25 in 2022 in Dover-Foxcroft. Click here for the map.

This story was updated in 2021. Image of Whoopie pie By Arnold Gatilao – originally posted to Flickr as Whoopie Pie, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10325942

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