Alabama / Food / Slice of Americana / Travel

MoonPie Over Mobile

Moonpie-Photo courtesy of the City of Mobile

Photo courtesy of City of Mobile

 

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.”

Moonpie Moving-via Press Register

Photo via Press Register

MoonPie Hangng

Photo courtesy of City of Mobile

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.

Moon-Pie-Half

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Bakery Inc.

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.

moon_pie_logo

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Bakery Inc.

How many calories are in a MoonPie?
Trust me, you do not want to know the nutrition facts! Just enjoy.

If you’re wondering what to do with all of those MoonPies after Mardi Gras, check out this recipe for MoonPie Bread Pudding. But if you want to make your own MoonPies here’s a great how-to.

If you’d like to see Mobile’s MoonPie drop to welcome 2013, check this out.

Peace and MoonPies,
Terri

This post is part of our “Slice of Americana Series” for July. Click here to see all the posts in the series.

Blue DogAnd if you’re looking for something fun in Louisiana, here you go.

Waterproof: Survival Tale of New Orleans’ Sculpture Garden

America’s Quilt Trails: Louisiana Pieces it Together

The Mardi Gras Doors of New Orleans

48 thoughts on “MoonPie Over Mobile

  1. Although I have not ever heard of a moon Pie ( gasps from the crowd), we have something in the grocery stores called ‘Wagon Wheels’ that matches the description and photo. A Canadian version perhaps?

    • It certainly looks and sounds just like a Wagon Wheel! Used to love them when I was a boy. According to Wiki WWs are a “snack food sold in Australia, Canada, Iran, Malta, Ireland, Russia, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom”.

    • Well isn’t that interesting, Sue. You’ve introduced me to a whole new product. At Andrew’s suggestion I looked it up on Wikipedia and they look totally alike. If their facts are right, the Wagon Wheels were introduced a bit later, so who’s to say if it was “great minds thinking alike” or a little creative copycatting. I guess the only way to find out is to do a taste test. 🙂 And the next question for Roadside Canadiana becomes, Does Canada have a giant Wagon Wheel anywhere? ~Terri

    • I can’t remember the last time I had one. It must have been when I was a teenager and my family moved from Chicago to the South – that’s when I discovered them. I guess I moved on to s’mores. 🙂 ~Terri

  2. The original flavor is my favorite. I haven’t had one in years, maybe on my next trip south I’ll pick up a box (or 3) I think the mayor was spot on with his choice!

    • I’m with you Laura – chocolate rules! I didn’t have them as a kid because we lived “up North,” but once we moved south I had my first MoonPie experience. The decision to use the MoonPie for Mobile’s New Year celebration was inspired, but the nutritionists probably didn’t agree. 🙂 ~Terri

  3. My daughter like Wagon Wheels for her school lunch. Made my teeth ache.
    Who doesn’t like trivia? I enjoy reading it. Thanks for the Wagon Wheel name, Sue, I was stumped at first.
    Great work guys. This Slice of Americana is a brilliant series.

  4. Love this post. And love Moon Pies. For my last visit to the teachers in Idaho, I took miniature Moon Pies, and, of course, they all laughed but quickly indulged themselves with the sweet treats. The 20th Annual RC-MoonPie Festival was recently held in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, on June 21, 2014. Although we’ve never been, I’m sure the little town is packed with munchin’, sippin’ devotees of both treats! Here’s the link recording the events that unfolded: http://www.tnvacation.com/events/12361/

    • Thanks Rusha. So glad that you introduced the folks of Idaho to MoonPies – I guess we Southerners shouldn’t have all the fun. I just went to the website of the Annual RC-MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle – what a hoot! I love that the whole event starts with a 10k run – talk about carb loading. The photos are hilarious. Thanks for the link. ~Terri

    • Wow! That’s probably a great decision, LuAnn. Your arteries will thank you. If you’ve ever toasted a marshmallow and made s’mores, then you know the taste. But s’mores are in an entire class of their own. As they say on Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.” 🙂 ~Terri

      • We have done the s’mores bit around the campfire and will continue to do so, no matter what my arteries think of it. 🙂

  5. I so loved the idea of moon pies – heard about them on my ONLY favorite TV show. …The Big Bang Theory … that I actually found a recipe for them. NOW let’s see how they turn out. Virginia

    • Did you grow up eating MoonPies, Pam? James did, but I lived up north and we never had them. But when we moved south I was introduced to all kinds of decadent treats. Remember Goo-Goo Clusters? ~Terri

      • Oh those are all goodies I know and love. I was born in Georgia and lived there for 6 years until we moved to Pennsylvania. Don’t forget those wonderful little mini-pecan pies too and pink snowballs. Yum!

    • Thanks Carol. Wagon Wheels were new to me – even though I lived in the UK. I think you have to be indoctrinated as a kid. 🙂 That’s the way it is with MoonPies. I grew up in the north and never heard of them, but when we moved south they were all the rage. ~Terri

    • Well Thom, isn’t that cool! I wasn’t familiar with the song so I just listened to it. What a sweet, sad song. Thanks for introducing me to Kate Campbell – she certainly sings from the heart. So glad that you stopped by. ~Terri

      • Great to read that. If you want another tip – listen to iris Dement sing ‘Easy’s gettin harder every day’ brought to mind by post you introduced me to about Lake Couer D’Alene.

        Isn’t the blogosphere wonderful! Thom.

  6. Hey Terri,
    Growing up in the south, I have certainly had my share of Moon Pies and RC colas! Another “treat” I enjoy when I head back to Frog Jump, TN is an RC cola with a packet of salted peanuts dropped in….can’t be beat. 🙂

    • Mona, that’s amazing! James’ Mom used to do the exact same thing! I’d never seen the tradition until I moved from Chicago to Glasgow, Kentucky when I was a teenager. So I was one of those “D&#n Yankees, then, but I learned quickly and fell in love with the South. 🙂 Thanks for the great story and stopping by. All the best, Terri

What do you think? We'd love to know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s