Last weekend I bought a relatively new product in the Giant Foods universe: a whoopie pie. I had never seen one at Giant until September. I never bothered to try one of theirs, but whoopie pies and Baltimore have had an extremely brief courtship (unless they've been around all along and only now has someone let me in on the joke). I am starting to like these things: soft mound of cake on top of another one, with a sweet, lardy frosting in the middle that is clearly on the buttercream side of the buttercream-Bettercreme spectrum, thankfully as far away from "Bettercreme" as you could hope for. Man, I hate that stuff.
Not long before this, I decided to put to test which was better, the moon pie or the whoopie pie. Although moon pies can be found all over the country (to my knowledge), they originate in Chattanooga and are common throughout the South. The relative shape is the only thing it really shares in common with the whoopie pie, made up of very different components: two soft graham craker cookies (more if you have the double decker variety) sandwiching a thick layer of marshmallow, and dipped in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or banana (the banana tastes like death. It's not a favorite). Whoopie pies are specifically found in New England and the Pennsylvania Dutch communities, but are spreading to other parts of the country. Still they proudly remain a quintessentially Yankee dessert. Until recently, Maryland was solidly part of the "Moon Pie Belt." I grew up with moon pies. I had never heard of whoopie pies until a few years ago, and had never even seen much less eaten one until this summer. Before that, I thought it was just some sort of moon pie. But whoopie pies are becoming much more common in Maryland, and so the time is now right to test one against the other.
So, I bought a chocolate cake whoopie pie from Whole Foods (I like Trader Joe's better but you can only buy six at a time) and a chocolate-covered moon pie from Mars. [UPDATE 3/8/2013: The moon pie and whoopie pie pictured below are not the ones used in the experiment.]
Moon pie vs whoopie pie: the taste test -
I quartered each pie, and taste tested a 1/4 moon pie vs a 1/4 whoopie pie.
Moon pie -
Whoopie pie -
Verdict - Although I am really loving these whoopie pies, I liked the moon pie just a little better. Granted, it might be different had I used a Trader Joe's or even a Giant Foods whoopie pie, both of which I liked a lot better than the Whole Foods kind. I'm still not sure which tastes closer to the traditional whoopie pie as most New Englanders and Amish know them. As for the marshmallowy chewiness of the moon pie, it does hold up well against the Whole Foods whoopie pie. Perhaps the moon pie would not do too well against the TJ or Giant ones, but that's for another taste test.
So the final verdict: moon pie by a nose, though that totally hinges on the type of whoopie pie it is compared against.