Tuesday, March 24, 2009

chaos & some rules

There were eight kids in my cousins' family, and unlike at my house growing up, where there were rules such as No Walking Through the Living Room, my cousins' house was lawless. In addition to the eight children, there were two golden retrievers (both of which loved to chase cars, hump legs, and bite kids), a senile old man, and two adults who never seemed to be home, all living in a small four-bedroom house. Not only were there no rules, there were no lucid grownups around to not enforce them, and my sister and I could do all the things that were prohibited at home, including watch cartoons, drink soda, eat sugar cereals, and walk through the living room.

After about half a day at my cousins' house, things would inevitably go Lord-of-the-Flies wrong: Someone would get bit by a dog, there would be a fistfight between a couple of the cousins over who had to change the diapers of the senile old man, and eventually my sister or I would have a post-sugar meltdown and want to go home. But before the crying started, there was the eating, and not just eating, but eating the kind of food that is prepared (or scavenged) by a horde of children under the age of twelve.

For example, lunch was usually a hobo-like affair that involved going to the park to collect cans and bottles, dragging the collected cans and bottles to Christie's Market where we would redeem them for money, and using the money to buy our version of hooch: penny candy.

Another featured lunch ingredient was Fluff: Fluffernutters -- sometimes without the nutter, because who needs protein when you can eat a corn-syrup sandwich? -- followed by whoopie pies (Fluff sandwiched between chocolate cake instead of Wonder bread). We baked our own whoopie pies using chocolate cake mix, because the Saran-wrapped whoopie pies sitting next to the register at Christie's Market exceeded our one-cent-per-item food budget.

Now that I am a high-rollin' grownup who can afford a $1.25 store-bought whoopie buy, I get mine at the Essex Quality Bake Shoppe (which made the whoopie pies for our wedding). The filling of these whoopie pies has so much shortening and sugar it tastes like sweet, whipped wax, and a whoopie pie from our wedding was not stale on our fourth wedding anniversary (though it was freezer burned).

Over the past week, several people have e-mailed to me this article about whoopie pies from the New York Times. And while I'm glad that whoopie pies are getting the recognition they deserve, many of the desserts described in that article are not, in fact, whoopie pies.

A few whoope pie rules:

1. Whoopie pies must always be individually wrapped in Saran wrap, not stored under some fancy glass doo-dad.

These look OK, but they ain't whoopie pies (please don't tell my dad I said "ain't" or I will have to pay a fine).

2. Whoopie pies should never have a glaze or frosting on the outside.

3. Whoopie pies are no longer whoopie pies when they are made with pumpkin cake or brown-sugar cake (puh-leez) or when the filling is maple-cream icing or when it comes in flavors such as rum, peppermint, Cointreau, raspberry or espresso (whoopie pies don't come in flavors, for god's sake; neither do creemees, for that matter, but that's a subject for this summer).

While this presentation may be fancy (it was, after all, a wedding), these are actual whoopie pies:

And this is what people look like when they eat actual whoopie pies.

They look like desperate, starved savages, basically, the very kind of people who would walk right through their own living room.


  1. Okay, point taken... but STILL... if you haven't tried one of Mirabelle's pumpkin whoopie pies, you are missing something. I'm telling you.

  2. I missed the Whoopie Pie phenomenon by growing up in an overly intellectual north Florida college town, and was introduced to them at your wedding. (Actually, when were whoopie pies invented? Am I too old???) Your description of sweetened wax is perfect, but seeing the photo of the wedding cake brought back even sweeter memories of digging into that pile of saran-wrapped goo. With Abe standing proud on the top of the cake, it was a sight (and taste) to behold.