The whoopie pie – two discs of sponge cake sandwiching a thick, buttercream filling – is on track to become one of the most popular items to hit the shelves this year, knocking off cup cakes, doughnuts and macaroons.

Marks & Spencer, which started selling the pastries just last week, said they had sold out in 50 shops with consumers buying 20,000 of them in the last four days alone. Independent bakeries also say they are proving a favourite with customers.

Link: Jackson's Catering Whoopie Cake info

The first mainstream shop to sell them was Harrods, which introduced the treats at the end of last year. They are proving so popular that the department store has had to hire extra staff to meet demand.

Matthias Kiehm, director for Food at Harrods, said: "Whoopie pies have been an unprecedented hit since launching at Harrods and are now on track to be as big as cupcakes. Since hitting the shelves they have been selling out daily and we have even had to draft in extra bakers and launch mini bite-sized varieties to ensure we can meet demand."

While Harrods whoopie pies sell for £2.50, M&S's retail for the more modest price of £1.99 for four.

Chris Seaby at M&S said: "The response has been phenomenal. Customers up and down the country have embraced our whoopie pies – it will be interesting to see if they do overtake cupcakes in popularity.”

Link: Jackson's Catering Whoopie Cake info

The pie is the latest in a long line of pastries to become a craze with office workers. When Krispy Kreme first came over to Britain, with Harrods hosting the original store in 2003, it caused consumers to ditch the traditional English jam filled doughnut in favour of the American glazed variety. Most Tesco Metro stores now sell the products.

Cup cakes, in recent years, have overtaken doughnuts, with many independent shops dedicated to selling nothing but cupcakes. Vogue magazine even pronounced: "Owning a cupcake bakery is the career fantasy of our times."

Whoopie pies were originally called hucklebucks. These cakes were put in Amish farmers' lunch boxes, who supposedly cried “whoopee” when they found them at lunchtime.

M&S insists that though the pies look like a pure mouthful of sugar, they are less calorific than the cupcakes it sells. A whoopee pie contains 200 calories compared with a standard cupcake which is 350 calories.

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Link: Jackson's Catering Whoopie Cake info

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