I’ve been on a whoopie pie kick lately. I made some for the bake sale down to the Community Center last weekend. ‘Course I had to sample a couple, you know, for quality control. They were so good, I came home and made a batch for Charlie and me. God, there’s nothing like a fresh from the oven whoopie pie with a glass of cold milk!
In case you’ve never had one (and that is a sad state of affairs), our traditional whoopie pie is two cookie-sized rounds of chocolate cake with white frosting in between—kind of like a sandwich, only better! The frosting is usually made with vegetable shortening (that’s how I like them), though some folks I know mix a little Marshmallow Fluff into theirs. .
They come in lots of fancy schmancy flavors, what you call your gourmet whoopie pies—you know, pumpkin with a cream cheese frosting, gingerbread filled with maple cream, lemon with raspberry butter cream, chocolate peppermint, chocolate peanut butter, you name it. I even saw one place that was offering a light whoopie pie. To which I say, Why bother? Oh, I’ve had some fancy whoopie pies and they were tasty, but I’m partial to the traditional chocolate one because it reminds me of being a kid, you know? When life was sweet, simple and easy.
Awhile back, some folks pushed for the whoopie pie to be the official Maine State dessert, but, alas, the blueberry pie won that battle. Fans didn’t give up, though, and in 2011, the whoopie pie was declared the official Maine State Treat. Of course, one fella made a big deal about this business of honoring the whoopie pie, you know, saying we were promoting obesity. I’m thinking, Come on! It’s called a treat for a reason. We’re not talking about lobbying to have whoopie pies be part of the food pyramid! For crying in your chowdah! I’m sorry, but broccoli as the official Maine State Treat doesn’t cut it in my book.
Actually, the whoopie pie is a source of even greater controversy than that. Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania all claim to be the birthplace of this delicacy. In fact, when Maine was pushing to make it our official treat, some folks in Pennsylvania raised a stink, calling it “confectionary larceny,” which I feel is a bit strong on their part. The controversy rages on, with no end in sight!
Now as to the name, there are a few different stories as to how it come to be called the whoopie pie. The Pennsylvania Amish say that whenever a farmer out in the field or some kid at school unwrapped his lunch and found one, they’d holler, “Whoopee!”
Our version is a little different. Back in the depression, this Maine woman was baking a cake and had some batter left over. She didn’t want to waste it, so she put a couple of big spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and baked it. Later, she filled it with frosting, took a bite and exclaimed, “Whoopee, it worked!”
I like that story best because it rings true, doesn’t it? There’s a woman at the center, efficiently doing her job, facing down economic adversity, but improvising, being creative, trying something new, being happily surprised by the outcome and then unleashing it on the world to thunderous acclaim. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
Besides, who else but a woman would invent portable cake?
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
Upcoming Shows and Book Events: Spring
April 21 A Visit With Ida, Huntington Common, 2:00 p.m., Kennebunk, ME
April 26 A Visit With Ida, Maine Knights of Columbus, 11:00 a.m., Newry, ME
May 3 New Keynote Speech, Alpha Beta State Conference, 1:30 p.m., Bowie, Maryland
May 19 Book Club Visit, 10:00 a.m., Portsmouth, NH
For details, please check out the schedule page on my website: http://www.idaswebsite.com/schedule