BIRD-IN-HAND, Pa. - Two round, textbook-thick, palm-sized chocolate cakes sandwich a creamy vanilla filling to create one sinfully rich snack.
It's the whoopie pie, and it's so good that residents in two states have cooked up a good-natured tug-of-war over which place is the rightful home of this culinary creation: Maine or Pennsylvania?
A state legislator in Maine whipped passions when he introduced a bill in January to make the whoopie pie Maine's official state dessert. Like a group of chefs tweaking a recipe, a legislative committee has since dropped dessert in favor of making the snack Maine's official treat.
No matter - residents in Lancaster County say that's just baloney. Those round mounds of cakey goodness originated from kitchens of the area's Amish families, dating back generations, they say.
"We've had this thing going with the whoopie pie here for years and years and decades," said John Smucker, chief executive officer of the family-run company that owns the Bird-in-Hand Bakery.
"And all of a sudden they try to enter into the picture. . . . It's just a bunch of nonsense."
Talk about a food fight.
"We do the original," Nancy Rexroad, 45, a baker at the S. Clyde Weaver store in East Petersburg, said after staff there pieced together their version of the traditional chocolate with vanilla filling.
"When something's the original, you can't improve on it."
This gastronomic grudge match got its start with Maine State Rep. Paul Davis' bill to laud the whoopie pie. Davis got the idea from speaking with people at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, which last year attracted 4,000 visitors to Dover-Foxcroft.
Davis said he'd been told Maine whoopie pies might date back as far as 1925.
Amos Orcutt, president of the Maine Whoopie Pie Association, was one of the Mainers who lobbied Davis to make a stand.
Orcutt said a local high school's mock legislature exercise proposed a "bill" to give the whoopie pie the official dessert designation.
A sweet idea was born.
Word of Davis' bill reached the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau in Lancaster, and organizers there decided to answer back. They touted a website, www.saveourwhoopie.com, that likened Maine's actions to "confectionary larceny."
Area residents say Amish and other Pennsylvania Dutch families have passed down whoopie pie recipes for generations.
Dan Neff, owner and president of the S. Clyde Weaver market, said he suspected that one possible origin for the whoopie pie was home cooks looking for a creation to replace cream-filled doughnuts, which would be difficult to make in a home kitchen.
Smucker relayed another story passed on in Bird-in-Hand about the origin of the "whoopie pie" name in 1958, in which one in a group of young Amish women exclaimed "Whoopie!" when checking on the progress of her cakes in the oven.
Visitors bureau spokesman Joel Cliff said 1,700 signatures have been collected for an online petition "objecting to any other state, county, or town claiming the whoopie pie as its own."