What’s your state dessert?

Pennsylvania and Maine have been locked in a sweets skirmish the past few weeks.  The territory under siege is the famous whoopie pie. Both PA Dutch culture and the Amish have connections to the whoopie pie, so there are tourism marketing implications at stake here.

Folks in both states have laid claim to the whoopie as the official state dessert.  If you can believe it, this topic has actually been debated in the Maine House of Representatives in recent weeks.

whoopie pies
Whoopie invasion

Personally, if I were a native Pennsylvanian, I’d say let them have it.  Whoopie pies have never been my favorite.  You get about halfway through one and it’s sugar overload city.

For the lowly whoopie is not the subtlest of desserts.  Slab of spongey chocolate cake, dollop of sickly-sweet white creme, another slab.  That’s it.

Perhaps sensing the crudity of their confection, some innovators have tried variations on the classic black cake/white creme pairing.  I once tried the peanut butter creme version.  Still had to stop halfway through.

shady maple whoopie pies
A package of Shady Maple mini-whoopies, safely behind plastic

Whoopie pies are like radiation or minor-league baseball–to be consumed in small doses, if at all.

Plus, it’s not like PA doesn’t have other desserts that might fit the bill as the state’s finest.  And that’s not even considering the non-Amish/PA Dutch ones I’m less familiar with.

I’m not sure what else Maine has though.  Lobsterpops? (As it happens, there are 3 Amish settlements in Maine–hardly Lancaster County, but the only Amish in New England) In an act of compromise, yesterday Maine legislators approved calling the whoopie pie the official state “treat”, rather than “dessert”.

Whatever.  They apparently want to make their mark so badly they’re constructing a 500-lb whoopie pie, double the largest whoopie whopper Pennsylvania has ever erected.  So all things considered maybe this is one that PA people just need to back off on.

As for my home state of North Carolina, there’d be a lot to pick from for state dessert.  But in the end I think I’d nominate a simple classic–the Krispy Kreme doughnut.

krispy kreme sign
Krispy Kreme stores are found in countries such as Australia, Lebanon, and the Phillipines

Why the Krispy Kreme?  The company was founded in Winston-Salem in 1937, and they’re still headquartered there today, so that gives NC a pretty strong claim.

I realize this is more a brand of an archetypal dessert–the doughnut–but the classic Krispy Kreme is an international icon.

When you think “Krispy”, you think of the standard plain glazed–not like Dunkin’, with its cornucopia of constantly-changing flavors.  The Krispy Kreme is simple like the whoopie pie, but distinguished by its subtlety and lightness.

krispy kreme doughnuts
Glazed goodness

Plus, unlike the whoopie, they’re highly edible.  They’ve got the perfect level of sweetness–just enough to complement a morning coffee, but not enough to whoop you into sugar catatonia.

Served warm, there’s just not much that kompetes with the Krispy.

So what about your state?

Do you already have an official dessert?  If not, what should it be?

Photo credits:  Whoopie pies-loosieid; Shady Maple whoopie pies-imagesystem; Krispy Kreme sign-rvaphotodude; Krispy Kreme donuts-Scott Ableman

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    1. Alice Aber

      Erik, donuts are breakfast food, not desserts!!! LOL. I think you will have a fight on your hands with Richard over the whoopie pie wars, LOL.

      Give me good old American Pie no matter where I am. Warm it and drop a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top and I am a happy camper.

      Blessings, Alice

    2. Breakfast! I think this is all in the eye of the beholder Alice 🙂

      After all Amish eat shoofly pie for breakfast…I’ll also admit to an occasional pizza-and-cola breakfast over the years 😉

      I am going to have to stand firm on whoopies though.

    3. Alice Aber

      Erik, pizza and soda for breakfast,,,, shame on you!! LOL Bacon, eggs, good fried potatoes is my favorite breakfast food. I’ll grab a donut if I am on the fly.

      I can’t comment on shoofly pie as I have not had any.

      We have Krispy Creams here but I prefer Dunkin Donuts or the local Mr. Denny’s Donuts better, LOL.

      Got to fly, need to get Frank to the VA today. Have a good one!

      Blessings, Alice

    4. Kevin Lindsey

      Well Michigan doesnt have an “official” dessert, but since were famous for our cherries, (Traverse City has a huge “Cherry fest” every year), I would vote for the Cherry pie. Of course an argument could be made for apple pie too, as we are also known for that (and the apple blossom is the state flower).

    5. Adrian

      I’m also not a big fan of Whoopies. The only ones I really like are pumpkin. The others dry out too quickly. I’ve been eating them since the early 80s as well, so that may have something to do with it: burnout. I much prefer Shoo Fly Pie.

    6. Marilyn in New York

      I’m not sure, but I think our New York state desert is apple pie because we are one of the largest-if not the largest apple producing state. I love Whoopie Pies and I think they should be Pennsylvania state not Maine. I like donuts too-anytime of day or night-any meal. I also have had pizza and coke for breakfast on the run. LOL

    7. Sherry Gore

      Definitely Key Lime Pie for Florida! I polled my readers recently regarding the Whoopie Pie war between Maine and Pennsylvania, just before making the treat if front of a 400+ audience in a cooking show.Roughly 150 responses came in on facebook. Most all agreed, Pennsylvania takes the cake. The only votes for Maine, were from Mainers. I’ll concede, Maine may have invented the Whoopie Pie, but Pennsylvania made them famous!

    8. Richard

      id have to disagree with sherry as to the origins of where whoopie pies was first made.Both states made them famous, but the state of Pennsylvania is the place where it all started. Thats my 3 cents anyway.If your going with a county favorite, and not a state one, id say shoo-fly-pie for the Lancaster area. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa

    9. Forest

      I’d agree with Erik as far as NC goes; Krispy Kreme donuts, maybe washed down with a Cheerwine (a sort of Cherry soda, for you deprived non-locals). If that doesn’t make you bounce off the walls, nothing will.

    10. Sherry Gore

      Richard, Labadie’s Bakery has been selling them since 1925. They have documented proof. No Amish or Pennsylvania cookbook features this recipe early in the century. As a cookbook author (my next cookbook is set in 1943 Lancaster County, PA) I’ve done my research, as have many others. If you can show otherwise, we’ve love to see it.

    11. Robin Miller

      Love the picture of Shady Maple mini-whoopies!! Did you know that they have a website and will ship goodies to your home? I’ve ordered breads, they ship them same day and were on my doorstep in Virginia the very next day!! In fact, I’m overdue for my next order!
      As for state desserts, I’m originally from Maryland and can’t think of anything in particular that we’re famous for. I’ve lived in Virginia for much of my adult life and not sure there either unless it’s a cherry pie, made “famous” by George Washington …

    12. Robin Miller

      P.S. As for the whoopie pie battle … the first time I ever had one was in the mid 80s when we lived in Rhode Island. Visited Lancaster County many, many times as a child and never saw or heard of a whoopie pie; but shoofly pie? Oh my, yes!! And did you know that Trader Joe’s carries whoopie pies? And they are home-based in California!

    13. I am a native Mainer, from a family that landed there about 1640. Whoopie pies were always the favourite dessert, and my great-grandmother (born about 1890) had a recipe from her mother, handwritten in an old school exercise book.We loved them as children, although my mother didn’t make them often – they were for special occasions, like family gatherings. They are as full of transfat and sugar as a dessert can be! I doubt if I could eat a whole one now! I find Krispy Kreme doughnuts too sweet, as well. We did have other local desserts – Labrie’s Bakery made a delicious filled doughnut called a bismarck; and there were Needhams, a candy with a coconut and potato base, topped with dark chocolate. I would have thought that the humble blueberry buckle was more quintessentially Maine, made of simple farm ingredients of berries, milk, flour, sugar and eggs. It is economical, since the berries supply most of the sweetness, baked in the oven with supper, and good warm or cold, for dessert or tea.

    14. If California has a state dessert, given the state’s reputation, it should be a nut pie. I make a hybrid that is a cross between my Arkansas ancestral home and my present location in the land of fruit and nuts – the walnut pie. You just take your favorite pecan (pronounced PEAcan in the south and paCAHN in the north) pie recipe and substitute walnuts for the pecans. Best not to bake this pie unless you have some folks handy to help you eat it, you may not be able to stop eating before you get to sugar overload city.

    15. Richard

      as shown in the wall street journal feb 14,2011……According to the Food Timeline, an independent research project created by reference librarian Lynne Olver, whoopie pies are the descendants of cream-filled sandwich cakes popular in the Victorian era in many European countries. Chocolate-cake variations became popular in the late-19th and early-20th century. So it seems from this article that neither Maine or Pennsylvania really invented the whoopie pie, or what is known as such. And about Labadie’s Bakery in maine, Labadie’s Bakery, which is still doing business in Lewiston. Unfortunately, the bakery’s records burned in a fire, and the owner isn’t sure just when the business started making them. So it looks like its a draw for both states, but to wrap everything up in a nice bow, im saying that its Pennsylvanias sherry. Richard from Lebanon countys Amish community.

    16. Richard

      Owner Tim Yost(yost Dutch maid bakery) purchased the “gobs” recipe and the rights to the name in 1980 from Harris & Boyar, another local bakery, whose owners claimed to have invented the treat sometime in the 1920s. It seems more likely that Harris & Boyar adapted what was already a regional favorite, itself possibly inspired by the cream-filled whoopie pies of Pennsylvania Dutch country, in the eastern part of the state. The name is thought to refer either to lumps of coal, called gobs by miners, for whom the cake was once a lunchtime fixture. Its very tough in finding the true origins of whoopie pies, and we may never really know. Now my break is over, i wanted to pop back on to post this. Im thinking maybe i should get the decafe coffee the next time . Richard from Lebanon countys Amish community.

    17. Mary Brandenburg

      Kevin, YES to anything made with Cherries or Apples, but I’ll will throw in the illustrious Paczki (pronounced “punch-key”) – which for the unintiated is a jelly-filled dougnut on steroids!! It may not be dessert – but it is definitely an after dinner treat on Fat Tuesday!

    18. Marcus Yoder
    19. Tom

      The pizza and cola breakfast is one of my favorites. Nothing like last nights left over pizza to kick off the day.

    20. Mona

      Oh yes, Paczki for sure…..I used to get them in Michigan and they were delicious…..and oh so much fat and the calories were unbelievable……..but well worth the calories 🙂 I always liked the ones with Prunes LOL….but you had to call in and have them to hold one for you, they were the first to go……..I never cared for the custard ones…..the lemon was good……so if you haven’t had one and you get a chance, try them…..you will like them…..

    21. Faye

      Whoops! Marjorie, you got it backward; in our portion of the south, we call them PACAHNS. Love that pecan pie. I don’t know what the favorite dessert is for Mississippi, but make mine pecan pie!

    22. Faye, actually pecan pie is my favorite too but pecans cost three or four times as much as walnuts here in California so walnut pie makes a good substitute, and a more appropriate state pie since this state is a major walnut producer. I miss the pecans from Arkansas – my granddaddy had a tree. I loved the big juicy Elberta peaches too. They also make a great pie, or more often a peach cobbler. The blog is making me hungry!

    23. Marilyn in New York

      I forgot to tell you before that here was an article in local paper advising that Starbuck’s is changing some of the goodies they have to go with their coffee. They are starting to sell Whoopie Pie. Now I haven’t been to the nearest Starbuck’s to find out, but I will check it out sometime. Our nearest Starbuck’s is about 20 miles away, but next time I’m in that area, I will check them out.

    24. Michelle V from FL

      Sweeet ! Here in FL the Key West Key Lime Pie is are state dessert! but… if you are in central to south of the state perhaps Flan may cure your sweet tooth.
      Love me some K.K. too and cold pizza and a “leaded” Coke will cure anything….
      if you know what I mean 😉
      This was fun ! Take Care All

    25. Michelle V from FL

      P.S. Not a fan of Whoopie Pies, Rather have a Moon Pie and if you can find it a RC Cola.

      The South is Queen of anything sweet ! Our pies, cakes, cobblers, puddings etc. Will surely chase your blues away and knock your socks off !

    26. Al in Ky.

      I would say our state dessert in Kentucky is
      Jam Cake. It is a dense spice cake made with
      blackberry jam and raisins and frosted with caramel
      frosting. My favorite Kentucky Amish dessert is
      fried pie which are individual half-moon shaped
      pies filled with various fruit fillings (apple,
      peach, cherry, etc.). I have bought many a good
      fried pie at Amish auctions, bake sales, farm
      stands, etc. in Ky.

    27. In Georgia not much time goes by without having a slice of Pecan Pie, with Pecan’s from middle and south Georgia; but, in the mountains we enjoy and engulf fried pies and sweet tea. The apples used in typical fried pies come from local family owned orchards that are delicious. Pound cake is also a classic, not to mention ones topped with strawberries(which will be coming in next month at the orchards.) Y’all come down south one day for a mason jar of sweet tea and a bit’o pie.

    28. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I don’t know that Ontario has a provincial snack, but if we picked one, it has to be the donut, as mentioned for other US regions. In some Ontario cities, it is said that there is a Tim Horton’s Donuts restaurant on every other block. Supposedly, the city snack of the Federal capital in Ottawa, Ontario, is the Beaver Tail, whatever that snack is, but apparently they fed Barack Obama some when he first visited there.

    29. Amy Jo

      have no clue what it would be in southern IL but… speaking of pecan pie – we often use our hickory nuts – especially those big ones found in the river bottom hickories… fun to harvest and great on the Thanksgiving table! oh, Persimmoms, too, especially made into the oldfashioned pudding with brandy Sauce (thanks Nancy Reagan) and i’d love to try a blueberry buckle – gunna hafta look that one up… so wonderful the boundies god has provided for our enjoyment!

    30. Alice Mary

      In the awful financial “state” Illinois is in, our state dessert should be “humble pie.”

      I’ll have to agree with Mona and Mary B. about Paczki–M-m-m! They’re probably the “city” dessert of Chicago (and they were also known as Bismarks by the non-Poles in the neighborhood). In my family (and neighborhood) they were pronounced POONCH-key (for plural) and POON-check for the singular (which I’ve decided will be my nickname for my 2 1/2 week old granddaughter, Ava Elise, because, like a POON-check, she’s soft on the outside, sweet on the inside.) Being my first grandchild, she officially made me a “Busia” (Americanized Polish for “grandma”)on March 6!

    31. EX-AMISH

      When I was raised——Schnitz un Knepp, Spaetzle, Apple Dumplings, Scrapple—with Apple Butter….Mmmmmm AND—Fasnachts(seen very recently)Thanks for making me hungry,Sir!!!

      Take care all….

    32. Osiah Horst

      As a young teen in Ontario, my mother or one of my sisters discovered Whoopie Pies, probably from a recipe in Family Life magazine or while visiting in Pa. At first I thought they were quite good but now agree with the assessment of “slab of chocolate, white creme, slab of chocolate and too much sugar” Here they are often served with a tiny glass of wine before an old order Mennonite wedding. As far as the Krispy Kreme donunt, we had never heard of them until their unsuccessful attempt to enter the Ontario market. The Ontario desert would be either Tim Hortons apple fritter or home made apple crisp.

    33. Tim Horton's vs. Krispy Kreme donuts

      Some great comments!

      Starting from the bottom Osiah I am glad I’m not the only one that feels that way about whoopie pies. Interesting wedding tradition–I would never see wine going with whoopie 🙂

      You and Shom have both brought up Tim Horton’s. I had not heard of them but I guess they have something to do with stopping Krispy Kreme. It did surprise me to learn of some of the places KK had made it though–the South Pacific as well as the Middle East. I think they have a decent position in the UK as well.

    34. Ex-Amish, glad to be of service…but Scrapple?? for dessert?!? That is a new one for me. Though “Apple Scrapple” seems like a natural.

      Alice Mary, Humble Pie-hilarious. And congrats again on achieving “Busia” status, you must be floating.

      Paczki in Poland are like a national symbol, almost. They have rankings in the local newspaper every year around Tlusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday)

    35. Amy Jo, Dirt Road Girl, all of you that mentioned pecans–I am a big fan. Pretty southern, or at least in my mind. Pecan pie is also hard to top.

      I’d be tempted to call that NC’s state dessert but I don’t know if other states wouldn’t have a bigger claim to that pie 😉

      Al–never heard of Kentucky Jam Cake, but Fry pies are quite nice. You see those a lot in the Holmes Co. OH Amish community.

    36. Michelle V, Forest–RC Cola and Cheerwine, two southern soda classics. We grew up on those. Moon Pie and RC sounds like a whoopie-esque sugar bomb though.

      Marilyn–I saw that about Starbucks…IMO Starbucks seems a bit “foofy” for whoopie pies, unless maybe they came up with some sort of an organic macadamia nut version 😉

    37. Blueberry buckle-Maine desserts

      Wish I could get to all these but up against the clock, though Magdalena as native Mainer I wanted to say I hope I wasn’t too disparaging about Maine desserts (I could actually see lobster pops in say Japan where they have seafood flavored desserts, but maybe not Maine 🙂 )

      I think the blueberry buckle you mention might have been part of the compromise treaty they were working towards with PA. Sounds pretty tasty.

      And Kevin on Michigan cherries, I have some great memories of trips to MI as a kid to pick em. We’d climb up in the trees on those big triangle-style ladders. No one ever broke a leg, thankfully. Michigan is definitely a cherry state.

    38. Lindsay

      I LOVE WHOOPIE PIES. But I also have a serious sweet tooth.

      I bought a 1/2 dozen from Rise and Roll and the gal behind the counter ever asked me if I’d had a whoopie pie. My best friend’s husband is a Mainer and have made them in the past…so I mention I have them before but never an Amish one. She did not hesitate to say that theirs were far better lol.

      Since I wasn’t able to eat them all at once(or in other words, didn’t want to gain 5 lbs in one sitting) I asked if the froze ok and the gal said she actually preferred them frozen, as they tasted more like an ice cream sandwich. So I tried one before freezing and it was OK, but the following week I tried a frozen one and it was much better IMO.

      Anyways, this weekend I’m making my own whoopies…they’re going to be Irish whoopie pies using Guinness in the cake and Bailey’s in the filling (I’ll be making a buttercream filling instead of a Crisco/Sugar filling).

    39. Lindsay

      As for state desserts…I’m not sure what Illinois would be since Chicago is certainly a different entity from the rest of the state (not disrespecting Downstaters…I’ve been to Springfield one time and that is my only trip Downstate). Back in Nebraska where I’m from it would be the celebrated Kolache, which is a Czech pastry. There are more people of Czech descent per capita than any other state (including yours truly…1/4 descent). It’s essentially a yeast sweet bread roll that is rather flat and has an indentation in the middle in which a filling (commonly apricot, cherry, prune, poppyseed) in spooned and a crumble on top. My great aunt Elsie used to make the dough with duck fat, which made it super rich as well.

      My alltime favorite is poppyseed…I just can’t eat them in the days coming up to a drug test for work :-p

    40. Debbie Welsh

      Lindsay, your Irish whoopie pies sound great! I’m with Erik and think that whoopie pies are too sickeningly sweet (although they’re my husband’s all-time favorite). But your idea, Lindsay, sounds alot more appealing.

      I don’t know if New Jersey has a state dessert but if I had to guess I would say anything to do with cranberries, blueberries, or peaches, as these are the fruits we’re most famous for, and have yearly festivals to celebrate them.

      My personal favorite desserts are either a Amish made raisin & pecan sticky bun, or a Jewish apple cake. Go figure, eh?

    41. OldKat

      Faye wrote:

      “Whoops! Marjorie, you got it backward; in our portion of the south, we call them PACAHNS. Love that pecan pie. I don’t know what the favorite dessert is for Mississippi, but make mine pecan pie!”

      Ditto this post for me and my state,(possibly soon to be ex-state)Texas.

    42. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Erik, KK seems to have made inroads into Ontario, Starbucks, although more noted for its coffee creations, has come to the province as well. My uncle, who lives in Toronto, made a big deal about KK. I’ve never been into a KK store myself.
      Tim Horton’s actually has a foothold in the USA, I am not sure how much, but for a while their head office was in the States, but apparently moved back to Canada during the economic trouble, so I hear, but they do have many stores south of the boarder.
      I don’t know if an American donut and coffee store sets up shops in USA Armed Forces bases around the world, but when there is a sizable Canadian base outside of the country, there is a Tim’s outlet selling the goods, there was one in the big base that Canada had in Afghanistan, it was news worthy.
      For me, when I was a little boy going to a Tim’s for a donut was a special treat in my family, and rare, today, people go to Tim’s just because their going grocery shopping. Sad huh.

    43. Marcus Yoder

      Shom Wendy’s owned Tim Horton’s for awhile. A lot of Tim Horton’s are still in the same building with Wendy’s.
      Marcus Yoder

    44. Lindsay

      Shom – there are lots of Tim Horton’s in metro Detroit area (makes sense) and they bought out a bunch of Dunkin Donuts locations in NYC recently and have subsequently converted them into Tim’s stores.

      I really hope they come to Chicago…I think their coffee is hands down better than Starbuck’s and their donuts are tastier than Dunkin Donuts. I just TH’s had soy milk as an option as well.

    45. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Marcus Yoder, that actually sounds like what it has been like here in Ontario, too, the Wendy’s / Tim Horton’s arrangement.
      Lindsay, with Windsor Ontario right next door, sure it makes sense that there is a lot of TH in Detroit. It seems to me there used to be a Dunkin Donuts in my community, or maybe it was a Robins, or what. But now the one I am thinking of is a regional chain dive where there is two or three stores in the area, and then in a neighboring community.
      People say that there is an addictive additive in Tim’s coffee that makes it tough not to want to have it. I’ve drunk their coffee and I don’t see anything special to it, but I suppose its like the famous marketing spat between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

    46. Lindsay

      You’re probably right SHOM, it’s likely more of a mental thing that makes myself (and others) think X coffee is good. I have a Canadian friend who really talked up TH’s to me so I think I had it in mind that I was going to have really great coffee there.

      When I was in Toronto, nearly everyone I saw had a TH or Second Cup coffee in their hand wherever we went. I think of all the cities I’ve been to Toronto is about the most coffee crazed city I’ve visited!

    47. marie b

      state dessert

      I would have to agree with the others from Ontario, our state/province dessert would be donuts from Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is on nearly every main intersection in any ontario city/town. You will find Tim Hortons, in Michigan, Ohio and I think Kentucky possibly Tennessee. They are down the I-75 interstate south, so our snowbirds don’t get lonely going down to Florida for the winters. We had a Krispy Kreme in Windsor, but I don’t think it made it quite 1 year. It wasn’t situated in a very good spot. I do believe they are better than some of our Tim Horton donuts. I’m glad they have a few stores in Michigan, and when I’m down near Toronto I go to the one in Missassauga. As for Whoppie pies, I first had them in amish country. Very sweet, sometimes sicky sweet. I do preferr the pumpkin rolls, with the cream cheese filling. They have wonderful ones at the Walnut Creek, Ohio Flea market.

    48. Tom

      There is a Amish baker near my house. I must say that I would place her whoopie pies up against any in the world. But I still would take the Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts over any whoopie pies. But maybe I should have prefaced this comment with “Hi, my name is Tom, and I am addicted to doughnuts”.

    49. Roberta Klooster

      Whoopie Pies

      Hmm – the picture looks a lot like what we used to make in Indiana, PA and called them “Gobs”. It was a very soft chocolate cookie on the outside and an icing of mostly sugar and Crisco on the inside. Since learning Crisco is not a healthy choice I quit making them. But I can still remember the delight of eating them! I’ll have to read through more of your posts to see if the name Gobs comes up from anyone else.

    50. Roberta Klooster


      . . and I found it in Richard’s post. Thanks for telling me more about what was my favorite treat, Gobs, Richard (Whoopie Pies to many of you). I love the possible name source too – like pieces of coal. We heated with coal too. Growing up without all of the modern conveniences was tough sometimes, but it surely leaves wonderful memories when shared with others who have the same.

      I love this site!

      1. Roberta, thanks for expanding our dessert vocab with “Gobs” (well, the name was new for me, anyway). I can’t recall if anyone used it on one of these posts. Glad you were able to share!