During Yahoo Y’All week, we’re celebrating the food culture of the American South. Expect profiles of cooks, makers, and bartenders, plus recipes showcasing the classics (and twists on those classics) you love. Here, our own Rachel Tepper waxes poetic about the MoonPie, a dessert that hails from her father’s hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Illustration credit: Joel Penkman
On long road trips down historic Route 1, the highway that snakes from the tippy-top of Maine to the southernmost point of Florida, there are few reprieves from monotony quite like a MoonPie purchased at a roadside convenience store.
That is, once you’re south of the Mason-Dixon line.
For the uninitiated, a classic MoonPie is a round graham-cracker-and-marshmallow sandwich coated with a thin layer of chocolate. Soft and addictively tasty, the treat has attained cult status in the South since its invention in 1917. That’s when Earl Mitchell, a traveling salesman for the Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee, set out to design a “solid and filling” snack for a group of Appalachian coal miners. According to official MoonPie dogma, when Mitchell asked the miners how big the sandwich should be, one “held out his hands, framing the moon, and said, ‘About that big!’”
Love for the dessert runs deep in the Deep South. For proof, one need look no farther than Mobile, Alabama, where every December 31st residents drop a 600-pound electric MoonPie replica to ring in the new year. Or the tiny Tennessee town of Bell Buckle, which holds an annual RC-MoonPie Festival honoring the dessert’s classic pairing with another Southern classic, RC Cola. Or perhaps Slidell, Louisiana, which hosts a parade called “The Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie" as part of its annual Mardi Gras festivities. (Traditions include dressing up as life-sized MoonPies and chucking MoonPies at parade-goers.)
But perhaps the best evidence of Southern MoonPie obsession resides with the many Moonpie hacks out there. There’s MoonPie bread pudding. MoonPie cupcakes. Deep-fried MoonPies. Not to mention this DIY MoonPie recipe, which permits even MoonPie-covetous Northerners to enjoy the treats in the comfort of their own kitchens.
Of course, you can always order the original MoonPie by the box ($5.95 for a dozen) or case ($39.95 for 8 boxes) directly from the Chattanooga Bakery website, which still produces MoonPies down Chattanooga way. These days, the classic MoonPie also comes in vanilla and banana, and the bakery even sells double-deckers in flavors such as strawberry, lemon, and orange.
Sure, a caseload sounds like a lot. But as any Southerner will tell you, there’s no such thing as too many MoonPies.
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Have you ever tried a MoonPie? Tell us your favorite MoonPie memory below.