Controversy is brewing in the state of Maine over a proposal to designate the whoopie pie the official state dessert.
The designation, supporters say, would give Maine bakeries a marketing edge and raise awareness that the pies are more popular here than anywhere else in the country. But opponents say the legislation sends the wrong message at a time when the nation is struggling to fight childhood obesity, an issue the first lady has championed... Rep. Donald Pilon dismissed whoopies as "frosting delivery vehicles" and suggested that wild-blueberry pie deserves to be the state's official dessert.
The "pro-pie forces" claim the dessert "has ingredients that serve as antioxidants that relax blood pressure," and that it serves a useful function as a "comfort food" in times of economic hardship.
Those unfamiliar with this dessert may recognize it as a northern variant of the southern "moon pie." The origin of the name is uncertain; it dates from the same period as the "Making Whoopee" song in a 1928 musical. The cake component can be changed in a variety of ways; the shortening/sugar filling is reminiscent of that inside an Oreo cookie. Some examples are presented at The Nibble. This week the New York Times featured a history of the whoopie pie and noted that its popularity has spread far from its regional origins.
Now whoopie pies are migrating across the country, often appearing in the same specialty shops and grocery aisles that recently made room for cupcakes... Under the name “sweetie pies,” heart-shaped whoopie pies showed up in the February catalog from Williams-Sonoma. Baked in Maine with local butter and organic eggs, they sell for $49 a dozen.
An additional controversy has arisen in the state of Pennsylvania, whose residents claim to have been the originators of the whoopie pie, thought to have been a Pennsylvania Dutch creation which was only secondarily adopted by people in Maine. The Wall Street Journal has more details.
But back to the original controversy. Should "state foods" take nutritional value into consideration? A group of fourth-graders in Wisconsin are presently asking for cream puffs to be designated the official state dessert of Wisconsin. Other interesting state foods include Illinois' popcorn as a state snack food, Indiana's hoosier pie as a state pie, Massachusetts' Boston cream pie and chocolate chip cookies, and Oklahoma's sausages and gravy as the "state meal." Most states have designated milk as their state beverage (but one opted for whiskey, and another included Kool-Aid).
Story link, via. Photo credit Labadie's Bakery, via What's Cooking America, which has recipes for making your own whoopie pies.