By Bruce Stambaugh
For two consecutive nights, I sat with hundreds of others in a College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio performance hall and listened to real experts share about urgent current events in the world.
The first evening, the speaker was an Iranian journalist who told his story of being arrested and tortured in Iran for reporting newsworthy events. The country’s autocratic leadership didn’t take kindly to him telling the world what was happening.
The next evening, two career diplomats from Egypt took the same stage and mesmerized an even larger crowd with Egyptian political history and their observations on the unfolding events in their home country. They were ecstatic that the mostly peaceful revolution had succeeded, and were nearly giddy about the country’s potential to finally embrace democracy.
All the while in our democratic nation’s capital, Congress raucously debated the necessity and wisdom of spending federal dollars on programs to feed and educate children. This version of democracy in action numbed me.
Amid all this critical confusion, a ludicrous verbal war had broken out between two states. Maine and Pennsylvania were at loggerheads over the origin of the Whoopie pie, of all things.
If you are not familiar with this delectable snack, Whoopie pies look like two cookies held together on their bottom sides with white frosting. They look that way because that’s what they are.
Things got serious between Maine and Pennsylvania.
When a Maine legislator introduced legislation to make the delicious treat the state dessert, the keystone state took it personally. Pennsylvania’s tourism bureau set up an online petition for people to sign. It was titled “Save Our Whoopie” as if Maine was going to round them all up for themselves.
The original Whoopie pies were chocolate, and most still are. But other flavors and colors have found their way into recipes, like pumpkin, red velvet, and carrot. I even saw some pink ones in honor of Valentine’s Day. The filling is generally sugary vanilla icing, although alternatives could be whipped cream, ice cream and marshmallow cream, which is Maine’s claim to fame. In some areas, they are known as Chocolate Gobs.
Most Whoopie pies are the size of hamburger buns. Others are more bite sized.
Things got so testy about where and how the first Whoopie pie was made that major metropolitan newspapers picked up on the story. It probably was a nice diversion from all the nasty news they had to report.
The tone of the rhetoric between Maine and Pennsylvania nearly matched that of the sound bite D. C. politicians. This was more than just a publicity stunt. Why couldn’t both states have the same dessert as their state’s favorite? After all, seven states claim the Cardinal as their state bird, and I have not seen any feathers fly over those duplicate designations.
In all the Whoopie pie war reporting, never once did I either hear or see anything about how popular Whoopie pies were here in the world’s largest Amish population. Here, the delectable treats show up regularly at family gatherings, reunions, at picnics and in school lunch boxes.
I thought it admirable that our own plain people paid little heed to this confectionery war. They had better, more productive things to do.
As for Egypt, Iran, Congress and all the others, we’ll have to hope for the best. While Maine and Pennsylvania make whoopee over their Whoopie pies, I think I’ll just enjoy mine.