Boosting whoopie pies not as frivolous as you think

Posted Feb. 06, 2011, at 6:50 p.m.

Last Monday, the Legislature’s Committee on State and Local Government held a hearing on Paul Davis’ bill to make whoopie pies the Maine State Dessert. Should Maine lawmakers be promoting a food with such high content of fat and sugar? Should legislators be wasting time on something this frivolous?

When many Mainers can’t find a job, when the state is almost a billion dollars short of balancing its budget, when so many can’t afford health insurance, what on Earth must these people be thinking? Making matters worse were the pictures of tables full of whoopie pies and all those people enjoying themselves when so many are struggling. These images make it look as if legislators just don’t care.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Believe it not, hundreds of people go to work every day to make whoopie pies and send them across the country and in some cases around the world.

Labree’s Bakery in Old Town employs 300 people making all kinds of treats, including 100,000 whoopie pies a day. Isamaxx Snacks in Gardiner churns out 10,000 whoopie pies a day and needs a large crew to meet demand and more employees to run two retail outlets selling these treats to tourists from far and wide.

Then there are the smaller businesses that make and sell whoopie pies in all different varieties from chocolate to pumpkin to blueberry.

In June, almost 4,000 people came to Dover-Foxcroft and paid $6 each to attend the second annual Whoopie Pie Festival. Not only did this generate greatly needed business for the local area, it was a lot of fun. Please join us this year.

Maine has a number of state designations already, some based on nostalgia and others based on our natural resources. The state berry is the wild blueberry, the state soft drink is Moxie, and who can forget the moose as our state animal.

In the 190 years Maine has been a state we never have had a state dessert. If this treat can provide so many jobs, why not the whoopie pie? After all, they were invented here, right?

Rep. Paul Davis and I, the sponsor and co-sponsor of this bill, will not be wasting any time when there is so much work to be done. Even though this bill seems frivolous, it’s about more and better jobs and a stronger economy, something we both promised when we asked for your vote last fall.

As my mother always said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Doug Thomas of Ripley represents District 27 in the Maine Senate. He is a co-sponsor of LD 1, An Act to Designate the Whoopie Pie as the State Dessert.

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