- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

RICHMOND, Maine

Just more than a decade ago, Amy Bouchard drew on her love for baking to create a business in her kitchen making whoopie pies. In those days, she would crank out three at a time.

Now, she churns out 5,000 to 7,000 of the sweet Wicked Whoopies each day, shipping them nationwide and beyond. The business has outgrown its bakery in a converted fishing-goods shop and will double in size when it moves to a new site in January.

“I can’t believe how many whoopie pies we can pump out of this place. It’s like a whoopie explosion,” Mrs. Bouchard, her apron blotched with dark-brown batter, said during a break from the production frenzy.

It is tight quarters for the dozen or so workers at Bouchard’s Isamax Snacks, where the sweet aroma of baking cakes and fluffy filling permeate the air. Big mixers whip up snowy filling, while a baker fills trays with batter and other employees hand-wrap the finished product in cellophane.

Devotees, Mrs. Bouchard says, include Oprah Winfrey.

Mrs. Bouchard and her husband, David, both former shipyard workers, took a traditional New England treat and ran with it. Now they are at a full sprint, trying to keep pace with orders.

Sales have mushroomed from $1,900 a decade ago to $1 million this year. Mrs. Bouchard estimates the latter figure will double by next year. Her husband acknowledges that the popular palate pleaser is still something of a regional culinary curiosity.

“We’re trying to change that,” said Mr. Bouchard, who hopes the larger bakery will facilitate a sales push beyond New England.

The Bouchards’ success story began after she left her job at Bath Iron Works so she could be home with her children. Mrs. Bouchard, who always loved to bake, wanted a way to make money at home, and her brother told her she ought to sell her whoopie pies.

She gradually expanded the selection of flavors, going from traditional chocolate devil’s food with vanilla cream filling to such cake flavors as strawberry, pumpkin and oatmeal cookie, and fillings with peanut butter cream and sweet raspberry.

New England-style whoopie pies are a cousin to the South’s moon pies, cookielike sandwiches with marshmallow filling and dipped in chocolate.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide