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Exploring Whoopie Pies: History Plus 10 Recipes

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Whoopie pies are a funny name for a seriously delicious sweet treat.

Whoopie pies are a funny name for a seriously delicious sweet treat.

There's Nothing Like a Food Fight

Civic pride, community spirit, that feeling of commonality, of being a part of something big and grand—it’s a normal part of the human psyche. We all desire to be recognized as part of something vibrant, dynamic, and significant. And the source of that pride can take many forms. It could be the accomplishments of a local professional sports team, the grandeur of a geographic landmark, or identifying oneself with a particular culture through language, music, symbols . . . or cuisine.

In my research, I have found many examples of pride (and prejudice) in cultural foods around the globe.

  • The Italians claim that centuries ago a cheese apprentice was distracted by love, and left his cheese curds unattended overnight. To hide his oversight, the next morning he mixed them with fresh curds, but a few weeks later noticed that the batch was turning blue. The mistake could no longer be hidden, but it proved to be a happy accident, and Gorgonzola was born….or something like that. Oddly enough, the French have a similar story for the creation of Roquefort.
  • In the heart of Quebec, two restaurants each proclaim to be responsible for that fabulous moment in food history known as poutine.
  • And then there is the battle over hummus. In the year 2008 chickpeas became a political hot button. The president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists filed a lawsuit against the nation of Israel for food copyright infringement. This, dear friends, is known as the “Hummus Wars.” To further promote national pride, the government of Lebanon petitioned the EU to have hummus classified as a uniquely Lebanese food. No truce has been declared by either side.

The last place one would expect to find any controversy or incivility is in the heartland of the Amish, right? The precepts of their faith are the rejection of pride and arrogance and the value of calmness and composure. But in the states of Maine and Pennsylvania, the whoopie pie has pious hearts in turmoil.

The Pennsylvania Dutch proclaim that the whoopie pie is a cherished recipe handed down from generation to generation. In this waste-not-want-not society, the original cookies were made from leftover cake batter.

Mainers tell a different story, not of a happy accident in the kitchen, but of a professional bakery, Labadie’s in Lewiston, Maine. According to their website:

Labadie’s Bakery has been in the same location since 1925. The first whoopie pie sold in Maine was baked here at Labadie's. Back when this area of Maine was booming with shoe manufacturers, and textile mills. Lincoln Street, where the bakery is located, was part of what the locals call “little Canada”. This area had many jobs and thousands of French Canadians came south to work and prosper. Because of language barriers, many of them moved in with family and eventually formed the small French speaking community within Lewiston.

The whoopie pies recipe has not changed since 1925.

Over the years Labadie’s Bakery has grown and become a 24-hour operation.

World's Largest Whoopie Pie (1,062 pounds), Maine

World's Largest Whoopie Pie (1,062 pounds), Maine

Unfortunately, there is no proof of this claim; some years ago there was a fire, and all of the bakery’s early records were lost.

Nevertheless, in January 2011 Senator Paul Davis set out to establish Maine’s claim to the whoopie pie. He introduced L.D. (Legislative Document) No. 71 to establish the whoopie pie as Maine’s official dessert.

Bad news travels fast, and word of the proposal found its way across state lines to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau initiated an online petition decrying the legislative action as “confectionary larceny.” Protestors filled the streets of downtown Lancaster, waving angry placards stating “Mainers, You Go Eat Lobster” and “Give Me Whoopie or Give Me Death” and even “Whoopie Pies from Maine Taste Like Moose Poop.”

Why not settle this once and for all with a simple bake-off ala Gordon Ramsay’s Master Chef you might ask? As with most reality TV cook-offs, there’s always a curveball. In this case, the whammy comes from the State of Massachusetts. They too wanted a piece of the action. In her book Making Whoopies: The Official Whoopie Pie Book, Nancy Griffin uncovered a 1931 ad from the Berwick Cake Company. They were selling the “Berwick whoopee pie” for five cents each. Before you discredit the claims by Massachusetts, keep in mind that the Durkee-Mower company of Lynn, Massachusetts, was the originator of none less than marshmallow crème (also known as fluff), the original filling for whoopie pies.

We may never know who actually created the first whoopie pie, but does it really matter? What’s important is that we have not only a recipe that produces a treat as good (or better) than the original, but countless spinoffs as well.

Let’s get started.

Original Amish whoopie pies

Original Amish whoopie pies

1. Amish Whoopie Pie

Since 1790 the King Arthur Flour company has been providing bakers with superior flour and baking products: from Martha Washington's apple pie through the invention of the chocolate chip cookie, from flour in wooden barrels to bags at the supermarket, they've been there.

I know that I can always rely on them to provide not only pure, wholesome ingredients, but also tried and true, authentic recipes, such as this Amish chocolate whoopie pie recipe.

Banana cream cheese whoopie pies

Banana cream cheese whoopie pies

2. Banana Cream Cheese

One day Barry found himself with not only a supply of over-ripe bananas, but some extra cream cheese frosting as well (that one I have difficulty understanding especially since he has teenagers in his house). Necessity is the mother of invention, and banana cream cheese whoopie pies were created.

Cranberry orange whoopie pies

Cranberry orange whoopie pies

3. Cranberry Orange

Cheryl calls her blog "My Cup Runneth Over," and if you read her bio, it's easy to understand why. Not only does she have a full-time corporate job, she is also a wife, mother of two, and dedicated crafter, baker, cook, and blogger. (I find myself wondering what she does in her spare time.)

She writes her articles with humor and gorgeous photos. Her orange cranberry whoopie pies look moist and inviting.

Disneyland mint chocolate whoopie pies

Disneyland mint chocolate whoopie pies

4. Disneyland Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pie (Copycat Recipe)

Visit Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., and you will find the Mary Poppins–themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. Their menu is packed full of delicious-sounding treats for any time of day such as “Cruella De Vil brownies,” “Matterhorn Macaroons,” and in December the “Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pie,” chocolate cake sandwiches filled and drizzled with green peppermint frosting.

Gingerbread whoopie pies

Gingerbread whoopie pies

5. Gingerbread

As I write this article, the season has changed. The nights are chilly and summer days are just a small dot in the rearview mirror of life. It's time to think about all things wintry—steaming bowls of chili, mugs of hot cocoa, and of course gingerbread whoopie pies.

These cakes by Tricia are flavored with molasses and warm spices, and the filling has a touch of lemon zest.

Pumpkin whoopie pies

Pumpkin whoopie pies

6. Pumpkin

If gingerbread isn't your thing, what about pumpkin spice? Jill makes tasty treats, holiday decorations, and crafts with her sons and shares their recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies with us.

Red velvet whoopie pies

Red velvet whoopie pies

7. Red Velvet

These red velvet whoopie pies would be perfect for the holidays—Kate fills them with buttercream or cream cheese frosting (take your pick). I think crushed peppermint would be a great addition to either one.

Snickerdoodle whoopie pies

Snickerdoodle whoopie pies

8. Snickerdoodle

Like traditional snickerdoodles, these tender cake-cookies begin by creaming together shortening and sugar. Brown sugar adds color and cinnamon-sugar imparts the distinctive sweet-spicy taste.

Tiramisu-inspired whoopie pies

Tiramisu-inspired whoopie pies

9. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert. Ladyfinger cookies are soaked in rum-espresso syrup and layered with chocolate and rich whipped mascarpone. It's an unforgettable dessert, but it takes hours to make. You can get all the flavors of tiramisu without the work with these simple tiramisu-inspired whoopie pies.

Vegan and gluten-free whoopie pies

Vegan and gluten-free whoopie pies

10. Vegan and Gluten-Free

I have several dear friends who are vegan, so I can't sign off on this article without providing something for them. Vegan means that there is no dairy (no milk or butter) and no eggs but these vegan cookies are still melt-in-your-mouth soft and tender and the filling is sweet and creamy.

Sources

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 15, 2020:

Abby, I could have featured even more. I'm pretty sure there's a carrot cake version out there, and, now that I think about it, I'll bet I could whip up a peanut butter version and sandwich it with raspberry filling, PBJ-style. What do you think?

Abby Slutsky from LAFAYETTE HL on September 15, 2020:

I did not realize there were so many wonderful flavors. I guess I am a traditionalist and was just familiar with the chocolate ones.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 15, 2020:

Shauna, I had fun researching and writing this one. Fluff is a tad too sweet for me, so you can have my share. However, my Bethie loves anything and everything pumpkin, so I think a batch of those is in our future.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 15, 2020:

Linda, I love the history that precedes these recipes. Having lived in York, Pa for a while when I was little, which is near Lancaster (pronounced Lank' a stir) I tend to side with the Amish story.

These recipes look so yummy. I'd love to try the gingerbread and pumpkin versions. I've been on a Fluffernutter kick lately, so a good ole whoopie pie would definitely satisfy my hankering!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 15, 2020:

Bill, I was hoping this would be more to your liking. Thanks for the kind words.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 15, 2020:

I do love me a good whoopie pie! Don't get too fancy with them and I'm down with two or three or six. :) Loved this history but then I always do. Great article, my friend. Fun and educational and tasty.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 14, 2020:

Eric, I'm not sure that I want to pick a favorite. I'm just happy that someone kept the love of WP alive so that we can enjoy them now. Yes, pumpkin for sure (my Beth LOVES pumpkin everything).

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 14, 2020:

And the winner is cranberry orange. Yum! The pumpkin looks perfectly seasonal and also yummy. Needless to say that Gabe loves the WP. Once you get me straightened out on baking a bit more off I go.

Loved the WP wars story. I vote Maine.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 14, 2020:

Oh Pamela, if one could really gain weight by reading recipes, I'd be in serious trouble! My daughter loves anything pumpkin so I think we'll have to make that one very soon.

Thank you for your kind words and for always taking the time to write to me.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 14, 2020:

I think I gained weight reading this article. I enjoyed the history even if it is unclear as to who first made this treatv first. Thank you, Linda, for all these great recipes as several of them looked worth the time to make them. This was very interesting.