If you’ve had one whoopie pie, that ubiquitous New England pastry found in every gas station and lobster pound up and down the East coast, you’ve had ‘em all, right? Wrapped in plastic, these inverted cupcakes are typically a cavity-inducing combination of dense, transport-ready, gritty cake, filled to overflowing with frosting made from pounds of powdered sugar and enough vegetable shortening to coat the roof of your mouth in a thin slick of fat for three days. They’re not necessarily a bad dessert; just one that you only need to eat about every six months or so.
This is the reputation that Whoopsies! Gourmet Whoopie Pies founder Marcia Wiggins hopes to change. Marcia’s company, a bakery founded in her home and staffed entirely by her family, hopes to bring whoopie pies to the national stage, using modern gourmet ingredients like Madagascar vanilla, organic eggs, and the best chocolate money can buy for her unique creations. And because we love hearing about how small, independent businesses like Marcia’s got their start, we asked her a few questions:
- Where/when did you first encounter a Whoopie pie?
I’ve always enjoyed baking whoopie pies as long as I can remember. When we moved to Maine, we discovered DiMillo’s Restaurant in Portland and I used to bring 2-3 dozen whoopie pies with us when we would go out to eat. The staff at DiMillo’s always raved about them. My daughter, Berkeley, who has an entrepreneurial spirit, urged me to start a whoopie pie company with her.
- A controversial topic: Do you think the Whoopie pie deserves to be the official state treat of Maine?
Yes! Whoopie pies are unique to Maine, with the exception of Pennsylvania who also wants to claim them as their own. However, they are usually called gobs in PA. So, Maine should stake it’s claim on a delicious dessert treat!
- What do you love about baking? How did you learn?
I love the happiness that comes from our customers tasting our whoopie pies…that is my total inspiration. I learned through trial and error, like every baker. I know my friends and neighbors have enjoyed my trial and error style!
- Your cakes are sensational, but the filling is divine. Can you tell us about your inspiration for these unique cream concoctions?
When we first decided to make this a business I wanted our filling to be totally unique. I worked hard on making sure the filling was delicious, not too sweet and held up its job of staying inside the cakes. It wasn’t an easy endeavor, but again, it was a labor of love. We continue to launch new flavor combinations all the time and work hard to make sure they are delicious and stable enough to stay in the cakes. Berkeley and I were doing this together and we each took our positions seriously.
- Why the Whoopie business, and not cupcakes or typical pies?
Our passion is whoopie pies and that is what we do best. We enjoy the creation of new flavors and the options are endless! Offering people dessert alternatives to the cupcake craze led us to our tagline ‘why should cupcakes have all the fun?
- Are you selling exclusively at farmer’s markets? Is Whoopsies! online? Do you deliver?
We sell at these locations and Whoopsies can be ordered online, we ship anywhere in the U.S., or delivered locally in Southern Maine and Northern Virginia.
- Are there advantages to not having a traditional storefront? Or do you aspire to sell in your own shop one day?
We decided not to open a storefront at this time, so that we could build our business first. We do hope to have a shop (or two!) one day.
- Is it okay to eat a Whoopie pie for breakfast?
Yes! In fact many customers have told us how much they enjoy our new flavor, Granny’s Gone Wild, with a cup of coffee in the morning!
- In this economy, are you getting the community support you need for your business?
The local support and response to our business has been wonderful, in Maine and Virginia. We know that we have a good product and we always are excited when people discover us for the first time.
- Anything else our readers should know?
We are always coming up with new flavor combinations and ideas so please stop by our website, follow us on Twitter @whoopsiespies, or log onto our Facebook page… you wouldn’t want to miss what’s coming next!
Whoopsies! sent over a box of whoopie pies, giving us a chance to sample nearly every flavor in their arsenal (do you see how we suffer for this site?), and we are happy to report that Whoopsies! is, indeed, elevating the humble whoopie pie to new, never-before-imagined heights. My favorite was the “Vanilla Latte,” a vanilla cake with an espresso filling. Unlike most artificially-flavored “coffee” sweets, you could really taste the espresso in this filling, and there was a very slight, entirely pleasant bitterness that reminded you of the cake’s natural ingredients. I also really enjoyed the “Ditzy Brunette,” a chocolate cake with a filling spiked with…wait for it…Kentucky bourbon. FINALLY! Drinking and eating cake, combined!
Jillian was a big fan of both the new “Granny’s Gone Wild” whoopie pie, a Granny Smith apple cake studded with chunks of real apple, with a slightly gooey, stretchy caramel cream filling, and the “Pumpkin with Amaretto,” a pumpkin cake with a cream cheese, nutmeg, and Amaretto filling. These aren’t overly sweet, gas station whoopie pies the size of your head, but instead are a complex, unexpected dessert for savoring and sharing. You know it’s real food, using real ingredients, lovingly homemade by a real person with a passionate approach to baking. With so much becoming uncertain and unstable, these days, it’s nice to rely more on our neighbors to learn from, trade with, and remember what’s best about American life.