One look at Mobile, Alabama and you know that people like to party. I mean, where else does a glowing, 600-pound MoonPie descend at the stroke of midnight on December 31st to welcome the “Sweet” New Year?
So what’s the story? Well, it’s a tad complicated … and all goes back to Mardi Gras.
You know, Mardi Gras – floats, costumes, throws, drinks, king cakes. Ahh, that’s right.
The Backstory: It seems that before 1972, the Maids of Mirth tossed boxes of Cracker Jack from their float to the eager crowds below. The only problem was that the hard boxes caused some injuries when lobbed from a moving float, so they were banned in 1972. And two years later the Maids of Mirth began flinging MoonPies, a much softer alternative.
Flash Forward: The “MoonPie Over Mobile” is the brainchild of City Council Member Fred Richardson. He arranged for the city to partner with Chattanooga Bakery, the maker of MoonPies, to create a New Year’s Eve attraction for the city. When asked why he spent $9,000 of taxpayer money to create a 12-foot-tall mechanical marshmallow sandwich he replied,
“It cuts across economic status. It cuts across race. The MoonPie brings people together. If I had picked some other object, it could have divided the community. But the MoonPie, nobody has anything against the MoonPie.”
What in the world is a MoonPie?
If you’re not from Southern USA, you may not have encountered the tasty treat that has brought many dieters to their knees. The original MoonPie is a pastry made with two round graham cracker cookies with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in a chocolate coating.
Just for Fun, a Little MoonPie Trivia.
When did MoonPies arrive on the scene?
MoonPies were first introduced in 1917 in Chattanooga, Tennessee around the beginning of the Great Depression.
What was the inspiration?
“Earl Mitchell Jr. said his father came up with the idea for MoonPies when he asked a Kentucky coal miner what kind of snack he’d like to eat. The answer: something with graham cracker and marshmallow and dipped in chocolate. When Mitchell’s father asked how big it should be, the miner looked up in the night sky and framed the full moon with his hands.” –Melanie Peeples, NPR News
What did a MoonPie cost back then?
A nickel … 5 cents!
What does one drink with a MoonPie?
Why RC Cola, of course! It also cost a nickel back then. The popularity of this combination was celebrated in a popular song of the 1950s by Big Bill Lister, “Gimmee an RC Cola and a MoonPie.”
What was the nickname of the MoonPie & RC Cola combo!
Cheap prices paired with big serving sizes = “The Working Man’s Lunch.”
Are there any flavors other than chocolate?
The four main flavors are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana. Double Decker MoonPies also come in lemon and orange; MoonPie Crunch comes only in peanut butter or mint.
How many calories are in a MoonPie?
Trust me, you do not want to know the nutrition facts! Just enjoy.
If you’d like to see Mobile’s MoonPie drop to welcome 2013, check this out.
Peace and MoonPies,
Photo Credits: 1, 3. City of Mobile 2. Press Register 4, 5. Chattanooga Bakery Inc.