Though I have spent a good deal of time in Maine and grew up in Amish country, I didn't pay whoopie pies much heed until one of the reference librarians at the American Folklife Center came in with this New York Times article, raving about the sandwiched dessert. After a long discussion with her on the merits of the whoopie, its history, and the difference between a whoopie pie and a moon pie, I figured it was my obligation as an aspiring folklorist and pie enthusiast to give these traditional treats a whirl and investigate the question: is the whoopie pie indeed a pie?
I followed this recipe from the Times article, which happens to be from Zingerman's Bakehouse, a favorite Ann Arbor haunt. The cakes were indeed dry and not-so-sweet, which I thought was perfect, especially considering the OBSCENE amount of butter called for in the filling. Next time I would cut down on the butter, because when I put the whoopies in the fridge, the filling congealed in a not-so-appealing way, more reminiscent of biting into a stick of butter than not.
Since baking these whoopies once in Alexandria, with expert tasters Abby and Jake, and again at NELP in Maine, I tried a pumpkin whoopie (which I prefer to chocolate) at the Dutch Country Market in Laurel, MD and a brownie whoopie, homemade by a pair of little girls at the Bowdoinham, ME Farmers' Market. Both were excellent.
So is a whoopie a pie? Recipe-wise, it seems more like an inverted cupcake to me, but it does utilize the basic pie structure of filling surrounded by 2 doughs. But in the end I find the question negligible--no big whoop(ie).