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Whoopie Pies from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

         Politics has always fascinated me.  The wonderful things that our government concerns itself with leave me in awe. Take for instance the recent decision by the Maine State Legislature to declare the Whoopie Pie the state dessert.  This has led to two major confrontations but I am happy to say they are strictly bi-partisan.   
The first was highly understandable.  In Maine, which produces 25% of all blueberries consumed in this country, making it the largest producer of blueberries in the world, naturally a hue and cry rose up with this legislative legerdemain.   The Maine State governing body relented declaring the blueberry pie as the state dessert and relegating the Whoopie to something called the state “treat”. 
According to the Associated Press, the measure was approved 107-34 but required a second reading before going to the Senate for consideration. “Off the record, I would say a heavy load has been lifted off our plate,” House Speaker Robert Nutting said to some laughs after the vote was taken. But that hardly ended the controversy.  You see there is some question as to how Maine can justify saying the Whoopie Pie is its own.  It seems that Pennsylvania lays claim to the delicious chocolate and vanilla treat that is like biting into a piece of childhood itself.

Once Maine made its intentions known, Pennsylvania wasted no time in declaring, no joke, that Maine was committing ‘confectionary larceny’. Pennsylvania’s claim comes with a great story which goes like this: Amish mothers plopped leftover chocolate-cake batter into the oven, filled the result with icing and the whoopie was born. The practical pies were easily transportable for farmers in the field and children at school. The name?  Amish moms put the pies into their children’s lunch boxes and when found the kids would yell “Whoopie!”

Now there are are differences between the Maine and Pennsylvania whoopies. In Lancaster County, the traditional filling flavor is vanilla, and it is usually made of shortening and sugar. In Maine, marshmallow is sometimes used in the filling, though recipes vary.
A Woman named Nancy Griffin, author of the 2010 “Making Whoopies:The Official Whoopie Pie Book,” was determined to find the origin of the whoopie. The first documented evidence she could find was in neither state. It was from Barry Popik, a Texas researcher who edits a website on the origins of words. His site traces the pies to a 1931 ad in a Syracuse, N.Y., newspaper advertising a five cent “Berwick whoopee pie” made at the now defunct Berwick Cake Co. in Roxbury, Mass. Because whoopie is a catchy name, food historians believe it must have been coined commercially. Ms. Griffin, however, says the name was derived not from the shouts of glee of Amish children but, probably, from a 1928 show tune.  And that tune…”Making Whoopie” by Gus Kahn.
Well if all this controversy has made you hungry, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliofito, with a sizeable helping of Andrew’s baking skills, are here to rescue you.   Their “Baked Explorations” has a wonderful recipe for the treat.  Now interestingly, they don’t get into provenance.  They acknowledge both the Maine version and the one that’s Pennsylvania Dutch.  And then they offer up this delicious moist, deep dark chocolate cookie with a light and fluffy vanilla filling.  Their goal, they state, is not political at all.  It is to make the Whoopie Pie just as ubiquitous as the chocolate chip cookie and the brownie.  A tall order indeed but one you may latch onto once you’ve tasted these gorgeous “treats”. Or make that “desserts”.

2 thoughts on “Whoopie Pies from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito”

  • Being from Pennsylvania I know these enjoyable treat are from my home state. I introduce them to Jims nephews who are from Maine and they had never heard of them. And they were born and raised in Maine. So Mainer find something else to call your own. Michael Grim

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