We were shocked to read that Pennsylvania takes credit for the invention of the whoopie pie. As the story goes, in the early 1920s, Amish wives put these circular confections into their husbands’ lunchboxes, inspiring the guys to say “Whoopee!” Mainers roundly dispute that theory and contend that the first official whoopie was created at a bakery called Labadie’s (still whoopie-ing it up) in Lewiston in 1925.
Sure, both states host a whoopie pie festival. But credit for the World’s Largest Whoopie Pie, baked in 2011 and weighing in at 1,062 pounds goes to . . . ta dah! Maine. The Pennsylvania record is a measly 230 pounds. And it took New Englanders to create the magical ingredient, Marshmallow Fluff (made in Lynn by Durkee Mower Company), that elevated the whoopie pie to classic dessert status.
What’s more, the whoopie pie was designated the Official State Treat of Maine in 2011 (the official state dessert is, of course, blueberry pie.) “I’ve talked to many tourists who say one of the major items on their Maine to-do list is ‘trying a whoopie pie,’” says Alex Campbell of Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland. “The whoopie pie is definitely ingrained in Maine cuisine and culture.” Here’s a look at some worth-every-sugar-gram whoopies.
Labadie’s Bakery, Lewiston, Maine
Nothing beats going to the source. For nearly 100 years, this family-owned (third generation) bakery has been using recipes from 1925 to make their famously fabulous whoopie pies. Although the original bakery burned down, along with all the records, Labadie’s Bakery was the first in the US to sell whoopie pies at the retail level, they say. (Few dispute that.) Daily, they produce 300 dozen whoopie pies — about a million per year — relying on moist chocolate cake shells stuffed with a generous dollop of sweet cream. You don’t mess with a classic. They’re sold at their storefront bakery at just over two bucks a pop, in Mom & Pop stores throughout the state, and (a smaller size) at Marden’s Supermarkets in Maine. True fans show up at Marden’s in South Portland on Tuesdays when the shipment comes in.
Most winning whoopie: The perfection that is chocolate cake-meets-vanilla cream. They ship to all 50 U.S. states and military addresses around the world. 161 Lincoln St., Lewiston, Maine; www.whoopiepies.com.
Two Fat Cats Bakery, Portland and S. Portland, Maine
Who doesn’t love these whoopies? They’ve been featured on the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats,” and were written up in pubs including Food & Wine and Bon Appetit. To try one is to send your sweet tooth into spasms of joy, whether you opt for the classic chocolate + vanilla whoopie, or a seasonal flavor (pumpkin-maple in the fall, gingerbread at Christmastime, and lemon-zucchini with blueberry in warmer months.) They typically offer two varieties at a time, “and we have customers who wait all year for their favorite seasonal flavor to come back,” says Alex Campbell.
Most winning whoopie: Go for the classic chocolate with vanilla cream, or the chocolate-peanut butter combo. $3.25-$3.50 (regular size); $1.95 (minis.) Also sold by the dozen on Goldbelly (www.goldbelly.com). 195 Lancaster St., Portland; 207-347-5144 and 740 Broadway, S. Portland; 207-536-7713; www.twofatcatsbakery.com.
Wicked Whoopies, Freeport and Farmingdale, Maine
“I loved baking whoopie pies for friends and family, and [back in 1994], there wasn’t a lot of variety available,” in the whoopie pie realm, says founder Amy Bouchard. So, she came up with wild whoopie flavors like Lip Lickin’ Lemon and Orange Creamsicle. Her home business took off faster than you can say “raspberry and cream.” Now, in a commercial space, Bouchard and her crew bake 10,000 whoopie pies a day (even more during the holidays) in 20 different varieties. The company has appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine’s “O-List”, and lauded by The Chew, the New York Times, and Good Morning America, among others. Flavors like gingerbread, banana cream, red velvet, maple, and mint keep whoopie lovers coming back. To sweeten the deal, they offer weekly “Wicked Whoopie Wednesdays” on Facebook, randomly choosing winners online to receive a dozen whoopies. And remember that record-setting mammoth whoopie pie? It was a Wicked Whoopie, thank you very much.
Most winning whoopie: We love the Chocolate Lover’s whoopie, because you can never get enough you-know-what. $2.75; $1.25 for minis, $2.25 for Whoop-De-Doos (mini whoopie pies dipped in chocolate); $34.50 per dozen. Order online, or through the L.L. Bean website, or at one of two retail shops at100 Main St., Freeport; 207-865-3100 and 621 Maine Ave., Farmingdale; 207-622-8860; www.wickedwhoopies.com.
Cape Whoopies, S. Portland, Maine
Now these are some fancy-schmancy whoopies. This bakery-café uses Bensdorp cocoa from Holland and Madagascar bourbon vanilla paste to make their luscious treats, sold at their own shop along with Wegman’s supermarkets in Massachusetts and some Whole Foods stores. “We have an eye for less sugar and more flavor, perfectly balancing the flavors of fillings and cakes, and we never use shortening,” says owner Marcia Wiggins. “You will see the difference when you take the first bite.” No lie; these aren’t cloying sweet, they’re just right. Among the best-sellers is the Birthday Suit Whoopie Pie, featuring confetti cake with cream cheese filling, rolled in rainbow sprinkles (a darling of Instagram feeds.)
Most winning whoopie: Gotta be the Boston Strong, featuring buttery vanilla cake with a layer of fudge and vanilla cream filling. We may have eaten an entire half dozen within two days. They offer nationwide shipping. One dozen whoopies, $59; six-pack, $39.99; single whoopie $3.50 (gluten-free, $4.) 185 Cottage Rd., S. Portland; 207-409-0957; www.capewhoopies.com.
Whoo(pie) Wagon, Topsfield
Launched in 2008 at the Topsfield Fair, this whoopie-laden food truck immediately felt the love: Folks lined up for this portable sweet treat, and The Food Network deemed their pumpkin whoopie “the best fair food in Massachusetts.” The Whoo(pie) Wagon even has Hollywood cred; it appeared in Larry David’s 2013 HBO film “Clear History.” There are now four Whoo(pie) Wagons (and a Cookie Wagon.)
Owners Mary and Chris Bandereck and their team also make vegan, gluten-free, and gluten-and-dairy-free whoopies, and a whoopie just for pups, the WHOOFie Pie ($2), made with carrots, oats, peanut butter and honey. Our canine testers gave them two paws up.
Most winning whoopie: We fell hard for the Grahamie ($5), a soft graham-flour cake filled with creamy marshmallow, covered in dark chocolate. And this holiday whoopie sure sounds tempting: ‘Tis the Season, a fluffy spice cake with an eggnog infused filling, dipped in a white chocolate glaze with holiday-themed piping. Available inside the Topsfield Bakeshop (there’s usually a Whoo(pie) Wagon parked out front as well,) and online. 426 Boston St. (Route 1), Topsfield; 978-887-0795; www.thewhoopiewagon.com.
Chococoa Baking Company, Newburyport
Located in The Tannery, this lively espresso bar/café has become a must-stop for their delectable mini (two inches in diameter) whoopies in unique flavor combinations. Typically, 14 flavors are available, all made with the highest quality ingredients including three types of gourmet chocolate, unbleached Vermont flour and creamery butter. Each is just 130 to 160 calories, and the perfect size to satisfy a craving, we’d say. Gluten-free whoopies are available in several flavors, as well. Purchase in the shop or order online by the dozen (say, the Chocolate Lover’s Collection with four kinds of whoopies, $30.)
Most winning whoopie: Mix and match fun flavors, say the orange whoopie with cardamom cream, lemon with Key lime cream, or apple cider with cinnamon cream. Our testers fought over the Boston cream and salted caramel whoopies. $2.48-$3.25 each; 50 Water St., Newburyport; 978-499-8889; www.chococoabaking.com.
Sugar Baking Company, West Roxbury
Known for their fabulous Boston cream cupcakes, custom-made cakes, Brambles (a raspberry-filled cookie that has become a neighborhood favorite), pastries, and holiday pies, this local bakery also whips up a superlative whoopie pie ($4). They’re not big on variety — just two flavors are typically available — but wow, they pack lots of whoopie satisfaction into each one. Credit pastry chef Lynn Bruno’s own recipe for the classic whoopie, featuring a buttermilk chocolate cake batter spiked with coffee. The seasonal pumpkin whoopie with cream cheese filling is perfectly spiced. Red velvet makes a guest appearance around Valentine’s Day.
Most winning whoopie: Bruno’s chocolate-vanilla whoopie runs circles around other bakeries’ versions of same. 1884 Centre St., W. Roxbury; 617-327-8427; www.sugarbakery.net.
Whoopie-Doo & Cupcakes too, Sturbridge
With her pink-painted bakery and crave-able sweet treats, former school nurse Holly Koslowski wants people to feel like they’re walking into their happy place when they visit her bakery. Nailed it! This self-taught baker puts lots of love (and loads of filling) into her whoopie pies ($4.75-$5.50), including a classic chocolate with marshmallow buttercream, and a pumpkin-spiced cake with a cream cheese filling. They typically offer three to six whoopie flavors in the shop. If there’s a caramel macchiato whoopie with espresso buttercream in the case when you get there, snap it up.
Most winning whoopie: Try a twist on the whoopie, the “Cannoopie,” ($6.95) a vanilla bean cake with cannoli filling, dipped in chocolate and cannoli crumbs for crunch. Wowza. 179 Main St., Sturbridge; 774-241-3370; www.whoopiedoocupcakes.com.
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Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org