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« Making Whoopie: Pies, That Is | Main | Sweet Art: Just Donut »

War Whoop: Why Whoopie Pies Are Not the Next Big Thing

Whoopie Cushion
Whoopie pies.

There are so many reasons to love them. They're delicious. They're rich in history. They're filled with frosting.

What they are not, however, is the successor to King Cupcake's place in the popular dessert kingdom--regardless of what the New York Times says. Now, I realize that this is a powerful claim--but it's not just talk. To really become the next big thing, Whoopie Pies have some work to do. Let's lay it down:
Whoopie Pie from The Scone Pony, NJ
Problem one: The Stupid Name. There's no delicate way to say it: Whoopie Pie is a stupid-sounding name. For me, "whoopie" conjures up goofy images of sexual reference on the Newlywed Show and cushions that make farting sounds. I don't know about you, but even adding "pie" after it doesn't serve to cancel out these associations or change them to "irresistible dessert".

It's true--there are alternate names by which the treat is sometimes known: gob, and sometimes bob. You know what? These are not an improvement.
Is there a solution? Well, changing the name. Easier said than done, as anyone who has tried to upgrade to a full name from a diminutive knows; however, may I humbly suggest a few new names, just to try on for size? Frosting sandwich? Sweetburger? Cakewich? They may not be perfect, but no worse than whoopie pie.
Whoopie Pie from Sweet on You
Problem two: the cute factor. Don't get me wrong--whoopie pies do have a certain visual charm. But they're kind of cute in the same way my pug is cute--a sort of ugly-cute. They are a little lopsided, and the ungarnished cakey bits aren't much to look at on their own, and the look is generally very homey. Not to say homey is a bad thing, but if they want to graduate to a dessert worthy of cult following and mentions in US Weekly, they're going to need a little work on their styling.
Is there a solution? Luckily, there are remedies. I thought it was very cute to add sprinkles, nuts or chocolate chips to the side, chipwich-style, as I saw at Seattle bakery Sweet on You; the delicate frosting piping shown in the New York Times article index photo (whoopie pies from Trois Pommes Patisserie in Park Slope) adds a pretty touch too. Also, playing with flavor (as Joy the Baker, Crumblycookie.net and Seattle coffee shop Javasti have done) can also be a very effective way to not only add to the deliciousness of the treats but also to add some stunning color contrasts which lend an air of sophistication.


Pumpkin whoopie pies
Problem three: the size. They are, to put it delicately, huge. As much as it pains me to say it, the classic whoopie pie is often too huge for a single serving, which poses the eater with all sorts of awkwardness. Do you share with a friend? Do you save it for later? Either way there are obstacles--if you're sharing, you've got to first face the issue of whether or not you really want to share, in addition to the more practical matter of how to divide it, especially if you've taken it to go. If you've decided to save it for later, you're left carrying a somewhat delicate confection which can easily crush or ooze so that you lose precious frosting. This is a serious bummer.
Is there a solution? Mini whoopie pies. I first encountered these at the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking book party in Seattle,  when they served mini versions of their insanely delicious pumpkin whoopie pies. At about 2.5 inches in diameter they were the perfect single-serving size, with a great frosting-to-cake ratio and no awkward "want to share?" moments. 

Vegan Whoopie Pie, Sweetpea Baking, Portland, OR

OK, as you might have surmised, this post is not meant to be a rage against the Whoopie Pie machine--just some constructive criticism. Now, off to go eat one. Or two. And I'm definitely not sharing.

Want more Whoopie? You can buy them online here and here; you can attend the Whoopie Pie festival in Lancaster, PA in September; you can read more about their history here.


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Reader Comments (29)

Cakespy, you may be a fine judge of cakes, but you are wrong on this. Whoopie Pie wins over cupcakes. Always.

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterKen Wheaton

I must lead a sheltered life. I admit I have never had a Whoopie Pie. They aren't that big a deal here in MN. I think it would be fun to try to make some mini-ones. Do you have any great recipes to share?

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Pumpkin whoopie pies are the BEST!!!

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Amen, sister! I do not understand the fuss about Whoopie Pies. No, I just don't. (Of course I'm more of a chocolate chip cookie girl than a cupcake girl, but that's another matter entirely.)

July 29 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie koenig

I too, have yet to hear of or taste a whoopie pie. they kinda resemble those new oreo cakesters though, yes?

Oh the poor Amish and their funny sounding cake sandwich.

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

You forgot Goldberg. Also, I wish that Cuppie was making a farting noise sitting on that Whoopie. Ha.

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterjustJENN

I had my first whoopie pies in Maine a few weeks ago. Huge fan. I think they deserve all the attention they're getting. One thing they have on the cupcake--portability. Personally, I think macarons will be the next cupcake.

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterA.S.

My grandfather calls them "Moon Pies", does that seem better?

July 29 | Unregistered Commentertricia-rennea

although they re not the cutest of desserts. they do have something special and they re too good :)

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterSnooky doodle

although they re not the cutest of desserts. they do have something special and they re too good :)

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterSnooky doodle

ciaoooo, they're so good in this way...why changing?...your fan here in Italy..bye bye

July 30 | Unregistered Commentergianna

Oh, humbug! How can a little whoopie ever be bad? But if we're taking a vote, I'll cast my ballot for Sweetburger. And, I may have to book a fact finding mission to Lancaster ...

May the best sweet thing win! Here's a really yummy whoopie pie recipe (tried and true!): http://irreference.com/move-over-cupcake/

July 30 | Unregistered Commentermargaretbot

hmmm I do like thoses little whoopies, but a person tends to forget about them. I would love to find a great recipe to try out. My other problem would be, what category do the fall in? not the cuppy's, nor the cakes, not breakfast or tarts or muffins. Hmmmm Forever the unknown.

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I agree with you about the name issue. Your suggestions are awesome. I have a confession, though: I don't think I have ever had a whoopie Pie. My mom's friend was eating one from our local bakery a while ago and she referred to it as a Suzy Q...

July 30 | Unregistered Commentercaronae

We don't have whoopie pies in Ireland... :( But I can't see them overtaking cupcakes in my esteem! I loooove cupcakes! :D

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhán

Ken Wheaton: That's it...I'm gonna put a whoopie cushion under your seat!

Carol: I did a follow up post with a pretty classic recipe. There are so many awesome variations, but that one is pretty authentic.

Anonymous: that's my fave too!

Debbie: I realize I might be contradicting myself, but DO try the ones at Baked. They might shed some light on the subject!

Sabrina: only in looks. Tastewise, I think they're quite different. Cakesters are wannabes!

Nutmeg Nanny: Your empathy is so touching...makes me want to split a friendship whoopie pie with you! :-)

Justjenn: l.o.l. -- no, really.

A.S. : but what about the frosting shooting out of the sides? Oh no! I say.

Tricia: I like that name better, but I think that it might not catch on because there's a commercially made treat which is known as the moon pie and it would always have that association!

Snooky: No, I can't argue with that: they are quite delicious when done right!

Gianna: you're so sweet! :-)

T.W: I hope you do get to the festival--how awesome does that sound?

Margaret: Ooh, thank you!

Anonymous: You're so right. Not a cake, not a cookie, not a pie. Such an identity crisis! The recipe I posted after this post is a decent one. It's not insanely delicious, but it's pretty authentic (when stacked against what I have tasted in Amish country). The tastiest ones I've ever had though are pumpkin whoopie pies!

Caronae: Oh my! You've got to try one. Maybe it will inspire you to think of some new names!

Siobhan: Hope you'll get to try one...but I love that you're keeping the cupcake love strong!

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Hah, this post is adorable and so funny.

I wish I could taste one, but I never see a vegan-friendly whoopie :c

July 31 | Unregistered CommenterTeaspoon

Hah, this post is adorable and so funny.

I wish I could taste one, but I never see a vegan-friendly whoopie :c

July 31 | Unregistered CommenterTeaspoon

Teaspoon: Try these ones from one of my favorite vegan blogs, The Urban Housewife: http://theurbanhousewife.blogspot.com/2007/10/chocolate-peanut-butter-filled-whoopie.html

July 31 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

What? Cupcakes are still the winner against whoopies.
Seriously, the name... who didn't think about Whoopie Goldberg while reading this post?
They're yummy alright, but not as yummy as cupcakes can ever be. :D

July 31 | Unregistered CommenterUPrinting

When I first made the pumpkin whoopies, they looked like little hamburgers and since the term "whoopie" was so new to me and I couldn't remember what their "real" name was, I dubbed them "pumpkin sliders". Think that might help?

August 1 | Unregistered Commenterandrea

Err, if anyone could forgive the dull name, it's quite yummy. Still, cupcakes can have so many, many, many variations that it's hard to compare the two.

Whoopie pies aren't big here in Canada and I can't see them overtaking cupcakes here anytime soon either.

Not that I have anything against these desserts. I just don't see them as having enough variety to offer. Cupcakes and donuts will always be top of the cake pedestal in that department!

August 2 | Unregistered Commenterdanamccauley
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