While Michelle Obama pushes to bring more healthful food to the masses, and Jamie Oliver fights to get more vegetables into Los Angeles schools, across the country, it's a different kind of food fight: Mainers are trying to make their beloved, sweet whoopie pie the state dessert. And it's causing quite the sugar rush.
Whoopie pies, of course, are those delicious sandwich cakes--more than a cookie, better than a cupcake--gaining in popularity outside of their New England origins (they were claimed as a national trend for both 2010 and 2011). How could this portable, delicious dessert cause such a stir?
Backers of the bill say it will give the state a marketing edge by claiming the whoopie pie as their own, especially as the treats grow in popularity across the country. Opponents say the legislation sends the wrong message when childhood obesity is at an all-time high. They believe healthful, wild blueberry pie would represent the state better.
"I love wild blueberry pie, but you can also make a blueberry whoopie pie," says Roxanne Rubell, owner/baker of L.A.-based Baking Whoopie. "It's completely doable."
Having grown up eating whoopie pies, the New Hampshire native did extensive research before launching her online bakery business here last year. "The majority of Maine's commercially made whoopie pies are loaded with preservatives, and just aren't very good. And they're huge, so there's something to the argument that they aren't healthy."
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At Baking Whoopie, Rubell uses Callebaut or Valrhona chocolates, fresh organic Meyer lemons and blood oranges. Even Michelle Obama would approve these treats, albeit in moderation, of course.
Whoopie pies are certainly becoming more and more popular around L.A. In addition to selling her pies on the roaming Lobsta Truck, people can order Rubell's Baking Whoopie pies online for delivery, and she's still hoping to open a storefront. "If you can have a cupcake-only store, you can have a whoopie pie-only store," she says.
We also like the craggy whoopie pies at Simplethings Sandwich Shop & Bakery, and those at Sweet E's Bakeshop. There are traditional vanilla buttercream-filled pies at SusieCakes, and depending on the day, you might score carrot cake whoopie pies, or banana bread with peanut butter cream cheese filling, or red velvet at Auntie Em's (baked goods change daily, so call ahead to see what they have).
"Cupcakes are over," says Rubell. "This is the year of the whoopie pie." Again.