|Cranberry Island Kitchen's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies|
Before I put my foot down in the thick cream, however, let me tell you about the mouth-watering whoopie pies from Cranberry Island Kitchen that I just discovered. The owners of this Maine business - Karen Haase and Carol Ford - were featured guests on the Martha Stewart Show in 2007 where they showed Martha the clam-shaped Island Buttermilk cakes, lobster-shaped shortbread cookies with a tangy lemon glaze, and sand dollar-shaped shortbread cookies spiced with rosemary and ginger; Martha loved it and a national audience agreed.
Since I don't follow Martha, I hadn't heard of these delicacies until I met Carol Ford of Cranberry Island Kitchen recently at the swanky Falmouth Kitchen & Tasting Tour where she was helping to raise funds for Preble Street. I forgot altogether to tour the hosting kitchen when she started talking about peppermint whoopie pies, Mexican pies, and whoopie pies seasoned with dark rum, cointreau or espresso. One bite of her miniature pumpkin-shaped whoopie pie (above) and I was a fan.
Politely talking to me while my mouth was full, Carol told me that Cranberry Island Kitchen had won a "throwdown" against Bobby Flay on the Food Network. A throwdown? Apparently these whoopie pie wars take many forms. You've heard about the Maine vs. Pennsylvania challenge and how the world's largest whoopie pie was created here in Maine in South Portland this year? Obscenely, it topped a thousand pounds. The prior world's record was held by the contending state in this origin-of-the-whoopie-pie debate.
So, how does one determine the validity of these whoopie-pie-originator claims? It's likely there are both academic and public relations answers to this. A folklorist has suggested that Pennsylvania originated the whoopie pie, pointing to the evidence that immigrants brought creme-filled pastry tradition with them that dated back to medieval Germany. Really? I trust that a number of ethnic groups brought pastry traditions with them that could qualify as precursors to the whoopie pie. A more pertinent question might be when was the pastry-in-question first called a whoopie pie? And what's a "whoopie" anyway?
With the help of the handy, online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, we know that "whoopee" has been a joyous exclamation (in print) since at least an 1862 of Harper's Magazine and in the language of one of Rudyard Kipling's imperialist ditties since 1890. Before G. Kahn's lyrics to "Makin' Whoopee" popularized the euphemism for "amorous behavior" in 1928, Maine's Labadie's Bakery had been baking them for a few years.
But was this treat called a "whoopie pie" somewhere else earlier? The jury is still out. Those of you who want to research the history of whoopie pies more than eat them, have at it. As for me, I'm going for a run to try and work off the one I just ate and plan how to get to the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival on June 25th.