Whoopie Pie

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

whoopie pie is formed from two palm-sized rounds of chocolate sponge cake filled with a white frosting, made either of confectioner’s sugar, which is beaten with shortening, or marshmallow frosting. Associated strongly with Maine and Pennsylvania, where they are sometimes called “gobs,” whoopie pies first gained popularity in early-twentieth-century Maine as a bakery-made treat. They were later adopted by home cooks.

Competing claims for the invention of whoopie pies clutter their history. Early-twentieth-century cocoa or baking chocolate manufacturers popularized so-called Devil’s food cakes, the very opposite of the then-stylish, egg-white raised angel food cake. Devil’s food was the obvious source for the name Devil Dog, the white-frosting-filled, chocolate hot dog–shaped cake treat trademarked by New Jersey–based Drake’s Cakes in 1926. Probably desiring a competitive product, and possibly inspired by the Amish gobs, the Berwick Baking Company, based in Roxbury, Massachusetts, apparently developed whoopie pies to avoid infringing Drake’s trademark, and by 1931 it was advertising them throughout New England by that name.