Down East 2013 ©
On behalf of Down East I would like to apologize. You see, when we decided back in 2009 to create a book about the guiltiest pleasure in Maine, we didn’t know the trouble we were going to stir up. We’d watched cupcakes become a national culinary craze, and we thought, “Why not the whoopie pie?”
Whoopies have been a staple in Maine bakeries, variety stores, and diners for close to a century. Our state is also home to several world-class purveyors of the chocolate-and-frosting treat, includingIsamax Snacks and Cranberry Island Kitchen. We figured the time had come for the humble pie to get its due. And so, we asked author Nancy Griffin to put an idea into the proverbial oven to bake at a metaphorical temperature of 350 degrees. Let cool, frost with a sugary filling, and — presto! — we had Making Whoopies: The Official Whoopie Pie Book. We knew it would be a popular novelty item, especially at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival that we co-sponsor each June in Dover-Foxcroft. What we didn’t anticipate was that Nancy’s book would become our fastest-selling title in recent memory — or that it would help fuel a war of words between Maine and Pennsylvania.
Both states lay claim to being the birthplace of the whoopie pie. Naturally, we’re partial to the argument that traces the snack’s invention back to Labadie’s Bakery, in Lewiston, in 1925. And we’re affronted by the accusations of “confectionary larceny” made by the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau. As I write these words, the Maine Legislature is debating a bill to make the whoopie pie the official state treat. We, of course, would vote, “Aye.”
As this food fight has raged in Augusta and Harrisburg, Making Whoopies has become the last word on the subject, cited in the Wall Street Journal, on AOL, and in newspapers and television broadcasts nationwide. Meanwhile, other publishers have decided to serve up their own imitations. You’ll find a plateful at your local bookstore this summer.
Whether or not Maine actually gave the world the whoopie pie, it’s now indisputable that we created the sweet sensation that’s sweeping the country. Millions of Americans are discovering the joy of whoopies for the first time. We’re truly sorry for all the diets we helped to wreck.