Whoopie Pies Get Their 15 Minutes of Fame

March 18, 2009 at 12:27 pm 31 comments

Contributing editor Chas Brua called my attention to this story in today’s New York Times about the resurgence in popularity of whoopie pies, a treat that we Pennsylvanians have known about forever but which is lately gaining national appeal.

I remember when these were 12 cents!

I remember when these were 12 cents!

Like many people who grew up in western Pennsylvania, I call them “gobs.” I grew up eating the version shown here, made by the former Harris Boyer Bakery, now called Yost’s Dutch Maid Bakery, in Johnstown. When I was a kid, you could buy these everywhere—I even have a memory of buying them at the concessions table at Somerset High School basketball games for 12 cents. (It’s weird the stuff you remember.) They’re still sold today, though not anywhere around State College that I know of. When I have occasion to drive to Pittsburgh, I’ll sometimes stop at the Giant Eagle in Ebensburg and get one.

We also have a gob recipe in our family. I haven’t made them in, like, 962 years. For one thing, they have a lot of calories. And they’re also a production to make—you have to make (and bake) the cake part, then mix up the icing, then assemble the gobs, then wrap each finished gob in wax paper. But if anyone’s interested, I’ll dig the recipe up and post it. Let me know.

Tina Hay, editor

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31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debbie  |  March 19, 2009 at 9:05 am

    OMG……I grew up on these too….thanks for the memories. I live in NJ so we don’t have them. I ate all my gobs in Johnstown PA.

  • 2. Keith Harris  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    My mom was born in Boswell, PA and I still have family in Somerset, PA.
    Every trip we make to Somerset, PA we always being home dozens of Gob’s for the whole family, we “They Eat’em up”

  • 3. joe nileski  |  July 22, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I grew up in Cresson,Pa I also remember when the Harris Boyer man used to come door to door and i had to have my gobs I now live close to Phila and cannot get them here but do travel back to Cresson and get my at Leightys {Two boxes to bring home} Any chance you might start shipping to Phila area {LOL} Keep making the best cakes i ever ate Thanks

  • 4. Dorothy Hampton  |  October 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Dear Ms Hay,
    I grew up in Portage, Pennsylvania in the 40s and remember the Gobs so well. I can still taste the filling. I know the filling had to be cooked and I have never tasted anything like it since. I would be so happy if you could email the recipe to me. I know some people in Portage make what they call Gobs, but they do not taste quite like I remember. Something is missing. Gobs are definitely a happy and delicious memory from the past.
    Sincerely,
    Dorothy (McClain) Hampton

  • 5. Dorothy Hampton  |  October 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Hi,
    It’s just me again. I also remember another delicious memory. Cullens Bakery used to make the most delicious cream puffs that were ever made. I wonder if anyone took over their bakery and is still using the same recipe that I remember. They used to deliver them to my husband’s family garage between Beaverdale and Portage, PA. If you know anything of these, I would also like to receive any information. Thank you.
    Dorothy (McClain) Hampton
    Bedford, Texas

  • 6. kellly b  |  November 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I have been trying to explain gobs to my co-workers,,lol,,Martha Stewart did a sort of special episode about the difference between a gob and a whoopie pie,,I’m not sure it was so thoroughly explored,,in my family alone we had 3 variations on the “creme” for the filling,,awesome childhood memory,,

  • 7. Rich  |  January 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I am from Johnstown. I used to live in an apartment building at 165 Fairfield avenue. At the apex of the roof that faced Fairfield was a (presumably) piece of limestone with the word “Harris” carved into it. In the early 1970s, it was said that the building had belonged to both Harris and Boyer. This I cannot substantiate. Nonetheless, I am familiar with the building. The building contained large dwellings on the second and third floors. These dwellings were identical. Each had a sitting room (parlor), living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, refuse chute, laundry chute, two full baths, and three bedrooms. I presume one was for Harris and the other was for Boyer. A smaller apartment existed at ground level that probably served as servants’ quarters, I suppose. Former PA Lt. Governor Mark Single (sp?) had an office on the bottom floor after my family had moved on. The alley behind the building (between Fairfield and Barron avenues) led to the bakery’s loading docks. My friends and I used to steal bread and gobs from those trucks, as they were being loaded. Both the bread and the gob packages were so fresh that they were puffed up with steam. Workmen would faux yell at us as we raced away by foot or on our bikes. It would scare the crap out of us; we had no idea that they didn’t care. There was a small what we called “bread store” on the Barron avenue side of the bakery. One could buy bread and not much else, but everything was fresh and the people working there were kind. The gobs from Yost Bakery are almost identical and just as good. The thing is, the original icing was white and not yellow. Somehow that bothers me enough to make this post.

  • 8. bt  |  March 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    You can get them at Sheetz…

  • 9. bt  |  March 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Sheetz in State College and Sheetz everywhere that I have been…

  • 10. Tina Hay  |  March 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Ah, but the ones at the Sheetz are not quite the same as the Harris Boyer/Yost’s Dutch Maid gobs. Years ago the convenience store in Old Fort had the Dutch Maid gobs, but these days the farthest east I’ve seen them is at the Giant Eagle in Ebensburg. But I’d be thrilled to hear otherwise!

  • 11. Patti Rizzo  |  June 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I just read your article from March 18,2009 about Harris Boyer Gobs. At the end of the article you said that you could look up the recipe for the gob and the icing and post it if we wanted it.
    I would greatly appreciate it if you could e mail me the recipes. I have always loved these gobs and would love to try and make some. I know nothing is like the real thing but it would be fun to try. Thanks – patti_rizzo@msn.com

  • 12. Tina Hay  |  July 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Hi Patti — I do have the recipe; I just need to type it up and e-mail it to you. Will do that soon, I promise. –Tina

  • 13. Gloria Kimmel  |  January 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Tina……my husband is from Johnstown area and grew up on GOBS. He is always disappointed in the versions today. He remembered the name of the baker, Harris Boyer, and that is how I found this site. I would love the recipe if you can find it and the time to send it to me. He remembers the filling as having a ‘yellow’ tinge. Would that be a butter cream filling?

  • 14. Tina Hay  |  January 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Gloria — I will try to dig up that recipe and post it. Unfortunately the version our family made is pretty different from the Harris Boyer (now Yost’s) gobs. It’s funny — our family’s version is moister and the filling is creamier, and you’d think that’d be better. (And some people would say it is.) But I love the semi-dry store-bought ones better!

  • 15. Jake Trexel  |  December 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    What wonderful memories of home, in the 50’s and 60’s. I would love the original recipe, the one with the yellow filling.

  • 16. Joyce Trexel-Swanger  |  June 12, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I too remember the Harris Boyer Bakery man coming to our door when I was growing up in Johnstown back in the 60’s. Weren’t those yellow cream filled gobs the best? I can remember my mom had a recipe to make the homemade version. Tina is right, the bought ones were more dry compared to the moister homemade.

  • 17. Jake Trexel  |  June 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Joyce. Are you family? If so, i through I was alone in the world. Please let me know
    Jake Trexel

  • 18. brenda  |  November 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    please send me the recipe i want to make them taste exactly like the one pictured above made in johnstown pa i like the kinda dry iceing its not greasy thats what i think makes them good and what makes the iceing look slightly yellow

  • 19. Tina Hay  |  November 26, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I do have our family’s recipe … somewhere … but they don’t come out like the Johnstown gobs, alas. The family recipe produces a more moist gob with a creamy white filling. I like it, but I like the dry yellow icing of the store-bought gobs so much better!

  • 20. Anonymous  |  August 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I grew up in Dale Boro in Johnstown. Loved them and still get them whenever I go home for a visit. I remember when they were only 10 cents.

  • 21. Anonymous  |  August 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Okay can you please post the recipe you have?

  • 22. Monica  |  July 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I was from Portage PA – Can you please email me the recipe – Thanks
    Monica Koza

  • 23. Monica  |  July 13, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I was from Portage PA – Can you please email me the recipe – Thanks
    Monica Koza malubins@ptd.net

  • 24. Eric  |  January 1, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    I grew up in the same church as the Harris family. Our youth group was given the gob recipe for fund raising. I still remember spending a weekend in the kitchen baking (and eating) hundreds of gobs, along with the occasional spoonful of filling!

  • 25. debbie  |  June 2, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Can someone send me a Gob recipe please.. WE ARE ~! Thank you.. Debbie sierra05@tds.net

  • 26. Jennifer  |  March 30, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I have a contact email for Becky Yost. ( gobsrus@gmail.com )
    She takes email orders. They’re $12 per dozen plus shipping. She replies back & ships them out quickly. I placed my order for 2 dozen of these bad boys on Monday & revived them that Thursday. They were super fresh! Not bad from Johnstown, PA to Arkansas!
    I was born and raised in Somerset & always got mine at Roof Garden Market.

  • 27. Arolyn  |  October 9, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    My family is from Somerset although I was born in Florida. Staying there in the Summers with my Grandmother, gobs were my favorite treat and I would take them back home with me every year. There was a bakery on Main Street next to the B.P.O.E. building that made the Amish style gobs and they were huge and wonderful.

  • 28. Ray Fry  |  December 12, 2019 at 1:51 am

    I’m from a small town called Seward, about 9 miles from Johnstown. I make Gobs but I have never been able ti get the recipe for the original yellow filling from the Harris & Boyer gobs I use to get tin the 50’s. Can anyone send me the recipe for the filling?

  • 29. Deborah  |  December 24, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Eric, can you find the reciepe?? If so please send it to me. I am from Hollsopple in Somerset Co. Now living in North Carolina. I love the dry cake and sweet yellow icing. When I go home I stop in Martinsburg, or any of the surrounding areas and buy my favorite pastry.

  • 30. deborah  |  December 24, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Ray I have been searching for the recipe for both the cake and icing. I found this recipe on a write up about gobs from PA. I haven’t tried it as I just found it today….. ” sweet and yellow and good. It’s 1 egg, 1# powdered sugar, 1 stick butter(margarine), 1 tsp. vanilla and salt to taste.

  • 31. Anonymous  |  February 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Would like the recipe for gobs with yellow icing

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