offbeat news a refreshing break from the hard stuff

USA Today’s website has offered the hard-news world a break with their “Offbeat News” section. I knew that I wanted to review a news story, but I didn’t expect to find anything really entertaining when I googled “crazy news stories”…I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

My attention was drawn to “whoopie pies spark food fight between Pennsylvania, Maine” and I read on. First off, I should preface you, as a true Mainer, what a whoopie pie is. Easier said than done, let me tell you. Since being in the midwest, I have tried to explain what this delicious dessert really is, but I’ve failed. It is 2 pieces of chocolate (or a variety of other flavored) cake with frosting in the middle. Like, cookie shaped pieces of cake – so like a cookie ice cream sandwich, but made with frosting instead of ice cream. But like…SEE WHAT I MEAN? It’s really hard to explain. Check out http://www.wickedwhoopies.com/index.php to see what one looks like.

Anyways, they are a classic Maine dessert that I have grown up knowing about, and until I left Maine to go to college in Nebraska, I had no idea that they were not a widely known treat. But I soon realized that “whoopie pies” were not something that most people knew about.

I just learned today that there is some major controversy about something so seemingly simple. But Genara C. Armas of the Associated Press found a story within the frosting, and ran with it. Apparently, both Maine and Pennsylvania are attempting to lay claim to being the first state to come up with the whoopie pie, and there are some people who feel very strongly about it.

As Armas explains it (better than I), “It consists of two round, textbook-thick, palm-sized chocolate cakes that sandwich a creamy vanilla filling to create one sinfully rich snack. It’s the whoopie pie, a snack so beloved that residents in two states have cooked up a good-natured tug of war over which place is its rightful home – Maine or Pennsylvania?”

Here, this should help. This is what a classic one looks like. (Though I should add that Wicked Whoopies [the link I put above] provides all kinds of different flavors!)

  • A baker makes whoopie pies at the S. Clyde Weaver market in East Petersburg, Pa.

So the problem arose when Maine attempted to make the whoopie pie the official state dessert. But residents in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is not okay with this, for they claim that the whoopie pie came to be when the area’s Amish community developed the recipe years ago.

Though you may be reading this and thinking, “are they serious!?”… Let me tell you: they are. John Smucker is the CEO of a family-run bakery in Lancaster County, PA. He said “We’ve had this thing going with the whoopie pie here for years and years and decades, and all of a sudden they (Maine) try to enter the picture…It’s just a bunch of nonsense.”

There have been rallies and major protests in PA. But I’ll tell you that as a Mainer born and bred, they’ve always been in Maine too. There’s a Maine Whoopie Pie Festival hosted by the “official” Maine Whoopie Pie Association (yes, I’m serious) every year, and thousands of people go, and I don’t know if I should be proud of that or not…

Pennsylvania is fighting back with some gusto – they made a website http://www.saveourwhoopie.com – that likens Maine’s actions to “confectionary larceny.” Once again, yes, I’m serious.

Thankfully, as the article reports, “All sides say they’re turning up the heat all in good fun” but I really think that there are some people who are a bit more serious about it. Like the lady who rallied with a poster that read “Give me Whoopie or Give Me Death!”

One Pennsylvania representative said of Mainers fighting for the whoopie pie, “They can have their lobsters.” I will take that, gladly.

Since this endeavor started as talking about offbeat news, I will get back to that now. Moving beyond the fact that I was thoroughly entertained by the passion that people put behind this effort, it almost struck me more that someone decided that this was news-worthy. When thinking about the interest-level of a story, I would think that if someone from one of the states in question is going to make fun of the story, then what will someone who knows nothing about the whoopie pie is going to say (or do): I’ll tell you, they’ll probably laugh.

But in this world of crazy useless news, there is plenty. Crazy people abound, and there is no shortage of ridiculous things to report on. Like the lady who fought to keep a disabled kangaroo, or the shop in London that is selling breast-milk ice cream. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

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About Christina Moore

Originally from Portland, Maine, I now live in Chicago and work with extraordinary nonprofit organizations to help them champion their individual causes. My heart is in the 207, and my feet are on the ground in the 312. Enjoy readmoore!
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