My daughter had her vaccination last week after turning four years old. Even a kid that likes to play doctor for hours on end and owns her own pair of miniature scrubs doesn't like shots, though. So there was the usual screaming and looks of reproach that you would expect. I did the only thing I know how...I offered to bribe her.
The bribe in question was a cupcake from Sugarbaby's on Shepherd. I was always quite taken with the little store. Their desserts are always top-notch and the staff are much nicer than the ofttimes downright rude folks at Dessert Gallery. The girl-child accepted her protection from diseases as long as I would treat her to a red velvet cupcake, and I agreed.
Unfortunately, when we got there, I found that Sugarbaby's had closed, and Maine-Ly Sandwiches had opened in its place. My wife sent me in to ask if they knew what had happened to Sugarbaby's. Alas, they have gone to the big catering gig in the sky.
"How about a whoopie pie?" asked the counterman at the new store. "We make the only real whoopee pies in Houston!"
"Let me go negotiate with the child," I replied.
I went outside where my wife and daughter were waiting. What in the name of God and all things Hee Haw was a whoopie pie? Sounded like a Yankee thing to me, but I thought I'd give it a shot.
"Sugarbaby's is out of business, Sugar Baby," I said. "They don't have cupcakes. How about a whoopie pie?"
We went back inside and for a mere $6, ended up with two of the whoopie pies. Plus, they threw in a bag of saltwater taffy to go with them.
Turns out a whoopee pie is basically an Oreo made with cake instead of cookies, and for a man who was pretty bummed about not having a cupcake, I'd say it's a damn fine substitute.
Maine-Ly's pies come in two flavors. The devil's food version has vanilla custard in the middle, and the cake is so moist and rich it's almost like eating a brownie. It felt like every bite should come with a shot of insulin.
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The wife and daughter preferred the vanilla cake and strawberry custard variety, with real bits of strawberry in the middle. This was especially wonderful, and reminded my girls of my mother-in-law's strawberry pink cake for the added bit of nostalgia.
Three dollars a hit for a sandwich shop dessert seems like a pretty steep bag, but they really are enough to wrap back up and take with you. I looked up some whoopie pie history when I got home, and found out that the treats were originally designed by Amish wives. Made of leftover cake batter, they would be sneaked into their husbands' lunch pails as a surprise, eliciting the "whoopee!" that they get their name from. That's the legend at any rate. It makes sense as they travel quite well.
As for whether they are the only real whoopie pies in Houston, I couldn't tell you. The same histories I was looking up were quick to tell me that up north, they've actually passed laws claiming who originated the dish, including the hilariously named "An Act to Designate the Whoopie Pie as the State Dessert" in Maine.