Whoopie Pies: Dessert of Good Times and Tradition

It is one of those things that no one really knows where it originated from. Several places claim it’s origin and they lay claim to it like they are a treasured possession. There are several ways to make them with a lot of regional variations and different twists on the “standard” recipe. There are even different names and ways of writing them out. But no matter what or how…

Whoopie Pies are delicious.

For those of you that are unaware of this mixture of baked cake and Frosting, Whoopie pies aren’t actually pies in the traditional sense. They are not the crusted and filled desserts that are cut into slices from a pan. They are not tarts, pastey, cobblers, or any of those things.

Nope. Whoopie Pies are more a cross between cakes and a dessert sandwich with two baked cakes being held together with a thick dessert frosting. It is a mouthful but is an incredible dessert that is seen in various forms all over the country. They are also called Gobs, Black Moons, BFOs (Big Fat Oreos), and Black and Whites, but since I’m writing this from the middle of Maine, it is a Whoopie Pie to me.

Where they got started is actually a hotly contested debate. Maine, The Pennsylvania Dutch, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts all lay some claim to having invented the Whoopie Pie with the earliest noted records going back to the early 1920s. The State of Maine made the Whoopie Pie the “Official State Treet” of the state of Maine in 2011, but oddly not the “Official State Dessert” as that honor goes to Maine Blueberry Pie (the more traditional pie). But truth be told, most of the people who enjoy them do not entirely care about the wheres and whys of their origins, just that they are good.

And although the Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting version is considered by many as the “Standard” Whoopie Pie, there are about a bazillion different versions with changes made to the cake with Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Blackberry, Orange, Molasses, and all kinds of different flavors held together with stands Vanilla, Chocolate, or even Marshmallow Fluff frosting holding everything together. Myself? I love a good homemade recipe with plain old vanilla sugar frosting.

I mentioned a while back about how Humpty Dumpty potato chips are everywhere in the state of Maine, but sitting right on store counters right next to them are usually whoopie pies ready to buy. Hotels, gas stations, bakeries, restaurants, and many other places have either their own homemade recipe or they purchase theirs from a vendor. Heck, I remember working for the I.R.S. for a little while and they even had Woopie Pies you could purchase when we weren’t stuck in a cube plugging away over a computer. Some places sell GIGANTIC versions of the treat to use as an actual full sized cake. Had a few birthdays in my life celebrated over these monsters. No matter what size they are or what flavor, Whoopie Pies aren’t really considered diet food.

But many consider it a tradition. Whoopie Pies are something many people just grew up on. My family has a recipe that is at least four generations old, maybe even older than that. It’s a comfort food that takes you to a better place or a better time. With early recipes dating to around the 1920s, recipes have been handed down, added too, tweaked, and changed in that time but the basics of making it good haven’t changed a whole lot. With that, you have a lot of good times and memories attached to those recipes even if they came from a store or if they are a part of a family tradition.

 So in a way, it is more than just a yummy dessert that has a murky origin. It is a tradition that has been changed and modified, given different names, and packaged and sold. But no matter what it is something that brings with it a lot of good times and happy memories.


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