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How the Maine Whoopie Pie Became a Local Legend

The whoopie pie has become a legendary food in Maine
The Maine whoopie pie.

by Eric J. Hurwitz. Article updated on Dec. 31, 2016.

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Maine is well known for wild blueberries, lobster, potatoes, paper production and moose but, recently, there has been a rising star: the whoopie pie.

Yes, that's right the whoopie pie -- that delicious treat that typically features two pieces of chocolate cake with a creamy filling. But more specifically, the Maine whoopie pie. You can find Maine whoopie pies in bakeries, supermarkets, restaurants, country and general stores, gift shops, convenience stores and even gas stations across the state. There's even a Whoopie Pie Cafe in Bangor. This writer recently purchased a delicious Maine whoopie pie at Warren's Lobster House restaurant in Kittery -- what a nice complement to a lobster dinner and its 60-plus item salad bar.

The internationally known Stonewall Kitchen, based out of York, sells a Chocolate Whoopie Pie Mix, as well as other flavors. Additionally, Maine lobster companies are getting into the Maine whoopie pie craze as the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company in Topsham offers a unique Lobster Rolls and Whoopie Pies package.

Businesses like Wicked Whoopies in Gardiner and Cape Whoopies in.... you guessed it... Cape Elizabeth, have sole business missions of creating and producing whoopie pies with a creative twist.

Marcia Wiggins, owner of Cape Whoopies, says that Maine's love for whoopie pies isn't just a recent sensation -- that it has always been there.

I think it was always that way here, it all started here,"
Marcia Wiggins, owner of Cape Whoopies.  "The Shakers had colonies here and made whoopie pies for the husbands and kids. They would open their lunch boxes and say 'whoopie!'

Wiggins is the latest generation of Maine whoopie pie makers that takes the profession to the next level.

"Some make the filling with a Crisco base, but I make a gourmet version, based in butter," said Wiggins, whose company offers 50 whoopie pie flavors. "For me, I want something that is really good. I don't want the whoopie pies to be overly sweet, too much sugar can block the flavor. It's way tastier with less sugar."

Depending on where you buy your Maine whoopie pie -- online or brick and mortars businesses -- flavors can go beyond the typical black and white with creative offerings like vanilla latte, strawberry,  coconut,  peanut butter, maple,  gingerbread, pina colada and banana cream.

The Maine whoopie pie has also garnered national attention. In 2011, a Maine radio station worked with Wicked Whoopies at the Maine Mall in South Portland to create a world's record for the largest whoopie pie, coming in at 1,062 lbs. With innate Maine generosity, money raised was used to send whoopie pies to US troops serving overseas.

If that's not enough, the annual Maine Whoopie Pie Festival takes place every summer in downtown Dover-Foxcroft with food, music, merchandise and, yes, Maine Whoopie Pies. Once we find out dates for the 2017 Festival, we'll post right here.

Maine Whoopie Pie FestivalPatrick Myers, founder and organizer of the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, came up with the idea with a friend several years ago on a cold winter night.

"It was one of those wonderful ideas that came from the kitchen table," said Myers. "We were thinking of summer and all the great festivals and wondering why there was no whoopie pie festival.... None of us were sure where this would be going, but it really took off and it seems like we've been taking over more of the downtown with each year."

The Maine Whoopie Pie Festival celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2014 with more than 7,000 people coming to the event.

Myers said that visitors from counties like Germany and England have attended, as well as from every state in the United States. He added that someone from Japan had written about the Festival. The whoopie pie culture has also spread to unlikely places and scenarios in the Dover-Foxcroft area with a hardware store selling the pies that "ring up as "miscellaneous hardware," according to an amused Myers. A local coffee shop humorously sells whoopie pies as "breakfast sandwiches."

Maine whoopie pies go through an awards ceremony at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival with The People's Choice Award, Best Traditional, Best Flavored, Healthy Maine Streets, Best New Baker, and Most Creative Whoopie Pie name.

The Maine Whoopie Pie Festival even has a mascot, "Sweetie Pie," thus confirming that the whoopie pie industry is serious business in Maine. Well, almost serious, given the mascot looks rather happy -- coming across sort of like the goody two shoes sister of the McDonald's Hamburglar.

Sweetie Pie Mascot Maine Whoopie Pie Festival. Photo credit: Maine Whoopie Pie Festival

Avery Sawyer, food director and baker for the Governor's Restaurant and Bakery in Old Town, Maine, has earned a few awards at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival including traditional, lemon blueberry, mocha and peanut butter.

"We have been in business for more than 50 years, so our whoopie pies have been around a long time," said Sawyer. "We ship them all over the country, even to Alaska. We always have the traditional and peanut butter, but have upwards of 15 flavors. Many University of Maine students move on with their lives and want the whoopie pies for their weddings. The last one we shipped to was in Arizona."

Many fads and trends come and go, but it looks like the Maine whoopie pie is here for the long run. Case in point: in 2011, the Maine State Legislature voted to make the whoopie pie the official state treat, thus ensuring and validating that the Maine Whoopie Pie craze is a tasty reality. For the record, the Maine blueberry pie (with wild blueberries) is the official state dessert, thus showing that Maine's growing commitment to diversity and equal opportunity is clearly apparent.

So, is the Maine Whoopie Pie becoming oversaturated, or is it just a matter of it just being oversaturated fat? Well, we already know the latter -- there's no real health benefit to two big pieces of chocolate cake with a creamy filling, or any variables. But as far as Maine businesses and government overdoing it, all we have to do is look at the hundreds of thousands of whoopie pies sold every year in Maine to see there is a true supply and demand.  Maine can also claim a time-tested element to the whoopie pie, as many believe that the still-thriving Labadie's Bakery in Lewiston created Maine's first whoopie pie in 1925 for commercial sale.

Areas of New England outside and Pennsylvania claim first rights to the birth of the whoopie pie -- there is strong evidence that the recipe has its roots with the Amish. No one knows for sure, but the Maine whoopie pie industry arguably reigns as the most prominent in the United States. A sweet state has become even sweeter!

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