Another bride, another June
Another sunny honeymoon
Another season, another reason
For makin’ whoopee…PIES!
Yes! Whoopie Pie Day is June 26th!
Anyone who grew up in Maine, or near Pennsylvania’s Amish country, or in parts of New England knows all about whoopie pies – the sweet, white, marshmallow fluff sandwiched between two enormous, cake-like chocolate cookies.
The whoopie pie’s humble history is shrouded in some degree of mystery, with Pennsylvania, Maine and Boston all laying claim to its creation. The name – a well-told, undoubtedly apocryphal, story – evolved from the shouts of Amish farmers, who delighted to find the pies in their lunch pails: “Whoopie!!”
Whoopie pies seem to be picking up where the extravagant cupcake left off, tantalizing would-be connoisseurs with a nostalgic, satisfying indulgence.
With the economy still sputtering, people continue to seek refuge in foods that remind them of better days and whoopies fit that bill.
The origins of Marshmallow Fluff go back to 1917. Before WWI, a Sommerville MA man named Archibald Query made it in his kitchen and sold it door to door. Mr. Query sold the formula to the Durkee Mower Company for five hundred dollars. An early receipt, still in the company’s scrapbooks, records a sale in April 1920 of three one-gallon cans to a vacation lodge in New Hampshire. The door-to-door trade gained a reputation among local housewives that eventually placed Fluff onto local grocers shelves. Retail trade spread from there to the point where in 1927 they were advertising prominently in Boston newspapers. The question of how the dessert got to be so popular in New England is addressed in a 1930s cookbook called Yummy Book by Durkee Mower. In this cookbook, a recipe for Amish Whoopie Pie was featured using Marshmallow Fluff in the filling. However, Labadie’s Bakery, in Lewiston, ME, which sells whoopie pies as big as 16 inches across, claims to have sold them since 1925.
In 1928, the Broadway show “Whoopee!” premiered in New York. It featured the “Makin’ Whoopee” song sung by star Eddie Cantor.
Durkee-Mower became a pioneer in radio advertising when in 1930 they began to sponsor the weekly “Flufferettes” radio show on the Yankee radio network, which included twenty-one stations broadcasting to all of New England. The fifteen-minute show, aired on Sunday evenings just before Jack Benny, included live music and comedy skits, and served as a steppingstone to national recognition for a number of talented performers. The show continued through the late forties. 1930 also saw the film version of the “Whoopee” Broadway show!
A real whoopie pie, Griffin says, is a big, messy affair, “a blue-collar dessert” that has nothing to do with moderation. So grab a big glass of milk and enjoy!