"The whoopie pie would probably be Maine's state dessert, if the state had one," said the New York Times, and funny enough, there's actually a movement to put that official stamp on this regional confection. Spend a few days anywhere in Maine and you'll notice just how popular the treat is. Whoopie pies can be found in groceries, bakeries, cafés, and convenience stores, often and piled high near the cash register.
The name is misleading: it's a pie only in the sense of a having a filling between two "crusts"—namely, a thick layer of sugary frosting sandwiched between two saucers of rich chocolate cake. It's said to have Pennsylvania Dutch roots and may have acquired its distinctive moniker from the jubilant yelp farmers emitted after discovering it in their lunchboxes, and it has been satisfying Maine's sweet tooth for decades.
Labadies Bakery. Labadies Bakery in Lewiston boasts 87 years of baking whoopie pies (which, over time, have grown from whoopie to whopping: they top out at 16 inches in diameter!). Though most of its business is wholesale, it has a storefront bakery. 161 Lincoln St., Lewiston, ME, 04240. 207/784-7042. www.labadiesbakery.com.
Typically, the filling is buttercream, but some places still make it with shortening, and others scoop a dollop of marshmallow fluff between the layers of cake. Many bakers have indulged the temptation to experiment with flavors and ingredients, particularly in the filling, yielding pumpkin, raspberry, oatmeal cream, red velvet, peanut butter, and more different kinds of whoopie pies.
Where to find the best classic whoopie pies in Maine is, perhaps predictably, a point of contention. The bigger producers certainly have devotees and include Labadies, which ships its pies of all sizes across the country. The treats from
Wicked Whoopies. Made by Isamax Snacks in Gardiner, these whoopie pies are stocked in supermarkets and convenience stores throughout Maine and sold at the company's coffee shops in Freeport and Farmingdale. 621 Maine Ave., Farmingdale, ME, 04344. 207/622-8860. www.wickedwhoopies.com. 32 Main St., Freeport, 04032. 207/865-3100.
Cranberry Island Kitchen. Cranberry Island Kitchen supplies Williams-Sonoma and ships nationwide, but about half of its "gourmet" whoopie pies (free-range eggs, Maine-made butter) are sold at its store near Portland's Old Port, where the offerings include seashell-shaped whoopie pies and filling flavors like espresso chocolate chip and Chambord. 52 Danforth St., ., Portland, ME, 04101. 207/829-5200. www.cranberryislandkitchen.com.
Smaller, more eccentric bakers have received accolades for their whoopie pies, too:
Friars' Bakehouse. Friars' Bakehouse was voted to have the best whoopie pies in the Bangor area by respondents to a Bangor Daily News poll. The bakery and restaurant is run by two Franciscan friars, one of whom spent time in highly regarded culinary programs. 21 Central St., Bangor, ME, 04401. 207/947-3770.
Moody's Diner. This diner makes pies of considerable size, prized for their filling above all. 1885 Atlantic Hwy, ., Waldoboro, ME, 04572. 207/832-7785. www.moodysdiner.com.
Two Fat Cats Bakery. This bakery's whoopie pies are delicately proportioned, with a smooth and light marshmallow cream filling, and conservative with flavors—no peanut-butter-mint-chocolate-chip pies to be found here. 47 India St., Portland, ME, 04101. 207/347-5144. www.twofatcatsbakery.com.
Governor's Restaurant and Bakery. The old family-friendly standby Governor's Restaurant and Bakery, with six locations, including Bangor, is famed for its peanut butter whoopie pies as well as the old reliable standard and can accommodate special flavor combinations by request with 24-hour notice. 643 Broadway, Bangor, ME, 04401. 207/827-7630. www.governorsrestaurant.com.
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