The fight over Maine’s quintessential treat
A bill proposed by Maine Representative Paul Davis (R-District 26) of Sangerville to declare the whoopie pie as the official state dessert has stirred up quite the controversy. Maine does not currently have a state dessert, and the decision over which sweet confection to bestow upon the Pine Tree State has received mixed reactions.
The whoopie pie, which is typically made with white frosting sandwiched between two fluffy chocolate cakes is the front-runner for the Maine title.
Proponents of the whoopie pie argue that it will have many long lasting positive effects for the state. It could boost tourism, giving people yet another reason to visit the beautiful state.
“Whoopie pies have become part of why people come to Maine. The ocean is definitely a bigger draw, but whoopie pies are definitely a little economic engine. And Maine can use every economic engine it can get,” Carol Ford, representative of Cranberry Island Kitchen, said.
The company, which is based in Portland, invented the popular hallmark clam and mussel shaped whoopie pie, made with Maine butter and spring water.
“It's rustic. It speaks of Maine. It's a comfort food for many people and during these more difficult economic times, why not have a whoopie pie,” Amos Orcott, president of the Maine Whoopie Pie Association, said of the delectable treat. His group represents approximately 60 local whoopie pie bakers.
Opponents to the whoopie pie being Maine’s state dessert worry that the treat is too unhealthy and that it would be sending a bad message. State Representative Donald Pilon (D-District 133) of Saco does not approve of passing the bill.
“At a time when 31.3 percent of Maine’s children are considered overweight or obese, do we want to glorify a dessert that lists lard as its primary ingredient?” Pilon said in a press release.
He has criticized the whoopie as being merely a “frosting delivery vehicle.” Though not everyone may consider a bad thing.
As a healthier alternative, Pilon suggests making the wild blueberry pie the official dessert. The blueberry industry is a 250 million dollar market, and the blueberry is currently the official state berry. In response, Orcott notes that the crust of the pie is certainly not considered healthy.
As Maine legislators attempt to claim responsibility for inventing the first whoopie pie, they have received backlash from Pennsylvania, which claims to be the home of the original whoopie pie. Some argue that the dessert has Amish origins, and that the Amish actually introduced the whoopie pie to delighted Mainers long ago.
Orcutt, however, claims that the first whoopie pie was made in Labadie’s Bakery of Lewiston in 1925. Maine lawmakers worry that Pennsylvania may attempt to claim the whoopie pie as their own.
The issue will be further debated in Augusta in the upcoming weeks. Pilon, determined to block the passage of the Whoopie Pie Bill, is looking into whether this sugary confection is taxed as a snack or as a dessert; if it is not classified as a dessert, it may be taken out of the running.