Whoopie Pie History & Recipe

Whoopie pies are considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition. Whoopie Pies have also been known as a “gobs.” in Western Pennsylvania (see Gob History below).

They are one of Maine’s best known and most loved comfort foods. Mainers will even claim that they were weaned on whoopie pies. In Maine, these treats are more like a cake than a pie or a cookie, as they are very generously sized (about hamburger size). they’re so hug that you’ll want to share one with a friend. A big glass of milk is almost mandatory when eating a whoopie pie.

Photos from Labadies Bakery

Whoopie Pie

Whoopie Pie

A whoopie pie is like a sandwich, but made with two soft cookies with a fluffy white filling. Traditional whoopies pies are made with vegetable shortening, not butter. The original and most commonly made whoopie pie is chocolate. but cooks like to experiment, and today pumpkin whoopie pies are a favorite seasonal variation.

The recipe for whoopie pies has its origins with the Amish, and in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, it is not uncommon to find roadside farm stands offering these desserts. Amish cooking is about old recipes that have fed families for generations, with no trendy or cross-cultural fusions or mixtures. These cake-like whoopie pies were considered a special treat because they were originally made from leftover batter. According to Amish legend, when children would find these treats in their lunch bags, they would shout “Whoopie!”

Gob History:

It seems that only in western Pennsylvania, mainly the Johnstown area, they are know as “gobs.” The bakers at the now closed Harris & Boyar Bakery in Morrellville, PA, claimed to have invented the treat sometime in the 1920s. Probably they adapted what was already a regional favorite inspired by the cream-filled whoopie pies of Pennsylvania Dutch country, in the eastern part of the state.

According to an article in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat newspaper, Johnstown’s Gob – A mealtime tradition, March 12, 2009:

Susan Kalcik, a folklorist and archivist with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission in Johnstown, said her research shows that the Gob’s origin can be traced back to medieval Germany. “They were making a cake-like pastry with a filling. It probably was brought to America by various German groups like the Amish or German Brethren.”

But Kalcik said the Gob is not a Johnstown invention. The Amish in Lancaster make them and she’s seen them as far south as Virginia. “They don’t call them Gobs, they’re called Whoopee Pies, ” she said. “I’ve also found Whoopee Pies in New England and as far away as Hawaii.”

Kalcik believes that the Gob became popular because it was easy to carry in a lunch bucket. “Men went into the coal mines or steel mills and the little cake with the icing on the inside instead of on the outside served their purpose,” she said. “I’m convinced that the name Gob is related to the coal mines. Lumps of coal refuse were called gob piles. These working people adapted the name to the dessert.”

But technically, not just anyone can use the name “Gob” for the familiar icing filled treats. The name-along with all the rights to market “Gobs”- belongs to Tim Cost, owner of Dutch Maid Bakery. Cost, who bought the rights from Harris & Boyar Bakery in Morrellville, said he’s always had a passion for the cake.

At the Hershey Farm and Inn in Strasburg, PA, an annual Whoopie Festival is held featuring a whoopie pie eating contest and the coronation of the Whoopie Pie Queen.

In 2011, The Maine State Legislature considered making the Whoopie Pie the official state’s dessert.

Amish Whoopie Pie Recipe

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Whoopie Pie Filling (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, sugar, and egg. In another bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the milk. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk mixture; beating until smooth.

Drop batter by the 1/4 cup (to make 18 cakes) onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.

Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make Whoopie Pie Filling. When the cakes are completely cool, spread the flat side (bottom) of one chocolate cake with a generous amount of filling. Top with another cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Repeat with all cookies to make 9 pies. Let finished whoopie pies completely cool before wrapping.

Wrap whoopie pies individually in plastic wrap, or place them in a single layer on a platter (do not stack them, as they tend to stick).

To freeze, wrap each whoopie pie in plastic wrap. Loosely pack them in a plastic freezer container and cover. To serve, defrost the wrapped whoopie pies in the refrigerator.

Makes 9 large whoopie pies.

Whoopie Pie Filling:
For this recipe, you are basically making a homemade Marshmallow Fluff/Creme.

2 Tbs. milk
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

mixing the marshmallow fluff In large bowl of an electric mixer, add milk, corn syrup, and salt. Using your electric mixer on high speed, mix for approximately 5 minutes.

On low speed, add powdered sugar and mix until well blended. Add vanilla extract just until well blended.

Your homemade marshmallow fluff/cream is now ready to use on your Whoopie Pies or other recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes a large quantity.

 (Excerpts taken from http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/WhoopiePieHistory.htm)

Last 5 posts by AmishReader.com

4 Responses to “Whoopie Pie History & Recipe”

  1. Visited PA & Hersheys. Wished we could have spent more time In Lancaster and looking forward to trying this recipe for Thanksgiving to share with family.


  2. I am interested in a recipe for bread dressing or stuffing for Thanksgiving. Are you able to help me out with this. This summer we visited a huge restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan and the dressing was so fluffy, It was delcious.


  3. Thanks so much for the history and recipe. I am continually seeking recipes (mainly desserts) to make for our residents that they may remember from years back. I am sure when these are made for next week, it will produce smiles.

    Thanks again,

    Chef Randall, Sous Chef IVBV, Brighton, MI


  4. I grew up in pa and this seems to be very close to the pies my mom would buy at the amish market very happy have found it thank you


Leave a Reply