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Whoopie Pies

When a bill aiming to make the whoopie pie Maine's official dessert was debated in the state legislature in early 2011, some lawmakers countered that blueberry pie (made with Maine wild blueberries, of course) should have the honor. In the end it did, but what could have been a civil war ended civilly, with whoopie pies designated the "official state treat." Spend a few days anywhere in Maine and you'll notice just how popular the treat is.

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 cake, usually chocolate. 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. Many Mainers dispute this, claiming the whoopie pie originated here. Typically, the filling is made with butter or shortening; some recipes add Marshmallow Fluff. Many bakers have indulged the temptation to experiment with flavors and ingredients, particularly in the filling but also in the cake, yielding pumpkin, raspberry, oatmeal cream, red velvet, peanut butter, and more.

Try some of these:

Labadie's Bakery. This bakery in Lewiston boasts nearly nine decades of baking whoopie pies (which, over time, have grown from whoopie to whopping: they top out at 16 inches in diameter!). The storefront bakery is open weekdays. 161 Lincoln St., Lewiston, ME, 04240. 207/784–7042. www.labadiesbakery.com.

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 storefront in Farmingdale. There's a second location at 32 Main Street in Freeport. 621 Maine Ave., Farmingdale, ME, 04344. 207/622–8860. www.wickedwhoopies.com.

Cranberry Island Kitchen. This place ships nationwide, but about half of its "gourmet" whoopie pies (free-range eggs, locally churned butter) are sold at its bakery on Lower Main Street in Freeport, where the offerings include seashell-shaped whoopie pies and filling flavors like espresso chocolate chip and Chambord. 174 Lower Main St., Freeport, ME, 04032. 207/829–5200. www.cranberryislandkitchen.com.

Friars' Bakehouse. Locals say this place has the best whoopie pies in the Bangor area. The bakery and restaurant is run by three 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 mint-chocolate-chip pies to be found here. 47 India St., Portland, ME, 04101. 207/347–5144. www.twofatcatsbakery.com.

Governor's Restaurant & 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.

Updated: 08-2013

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