Friday, September 14, 2012

An RC Cola and a MoonPie

Favorite foods vary from region to region in the U.S., and from country to country. Each has its own specialties -- foods it's known for.

I was reminded of this yesterday while food shopping and when I spotted a large display of MoonPies. "Wow, I wonder how many people outside of the American South have even heard of this item," I thought.

A definition is in order: MoonPie is a snack cake consisting of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center and dipped in chocolate, banana, coconut and several other flavored coatings. The traditional pie is about four inches (100 mm) in diameter. A smaller version exists (mini MoonPie) that is about half the size, and a Double-Decker MoonPie of the traditional diameter features a third cookie and attendant layer of marshmallow.

Just for old-times sake I bought one. It happened to be one with an orange-flavored coating. I was never a huge fan of this snack cake, but several years ago someone told me they were better if microwaved about 20 seconds. I bought them a few times when the children were at home, and we tried the microwaving trick. Hmm, tastes about the same to me, except warm.

But I ate it yesterday anyway. Below is an image of the pie: 

MoonPies were first introduced in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area around the time of the beginning of the Great Depression (1930s). Bakers there combined recently-introduced marshmallow fluff with graham crackers to devise an early sandwich-like prototype to the MoonPie. Eventually, chocolate was added to create roughly the final shape known today. 

The origin of the name is suspected to relate to the pie’s round appearance and may have been acquired back before chocolate was added, giving a color more similar to that of the moon.

Precisely how and when people began the custom of eating MoonPies with RC Cola is unknown, although it is likely that their inexpensive prices, combined with their larger serving sizes, contributed to establishing this combination as the "working man's lunch". The popularity of this combination was celebrated in a popular song of the 1950s, "Gimmee an RC Cola and a MoonPie,"  by Big Bill Lister.

Personally, I cannot imagine having this sweet snack as a lunch, but it was the Great Depression and I suppose people ate whatever was available.

First made in Columbus, Georgia  In 1954, Royal Crown was the first to sell a soft drink in a can, and later the first company to sell a soft drink in an aluminum can.

Here a few fun facts I learned through research about MoonPies:

Since New Year's Eve 2008, the city of Mobile, Alabama, raises a 12-foot-tall (3.7 m) lighted mechanical MoonPie to celebrate the coming of the new year. The giant banana colored MoonPie is raised by a crane to a height of 200 feet (61 m) as the clock strikes midnight. Also, the city had for the 2008 New Year's celebration the world's largest MoonPie baked for the occasion. It weighed 55 pounds (25 kg) and contained 45,000 calories.

There is a MoonPie and RC Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and a MoonPie Eating Contest in Bessemer, Alabama.

On October 16, 2010, Sonya Thomas, a competitive eater known as the "Black Widow," ate 38 MoonPies in eight minutes in Caruthersville, Missouri.

Newport, Tennessee held its first annual Moon Pie Festival in May, 2012.

While on the subject of regional foods, here are a few others unique to the Southern U.S.

Sun Drop - a citrus drink found in northern Alabama, central Tennessee, the Carolinas, western Kentucky, southeastern Missouri, and parts of Virginia

GooGoo Cluster, a candy that originated in 1912 in Nashville, Tennessee. It consists of  real milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat. These are very good!

Cornbread -- Eaten by practically all Southerners.

Black-eyed Peas - often cooked with chunks of ham or onions and eaten often, but especially on New Year's Day for good luck.

Turnip Greens, also eaten anytime but especially on New Year's Day with the peas and hog jowl.

And lastly, red-eye gravy, a thin sauce associated with the country ham of the South. Other names include poor man's gravy, bird-eye gravy, bottom sop and red ham gravy. It is made from the drippings of pan-fried country ham, bacon, or other pork, typically mixed with black coffee. The same drippings, when mixed with flour, make the flavoring for sawmill gravy. Red-eye gravy is often served over ham, cornbread, grits, or biscuits.

Are you familiar with any, or all of these foods? Have you eaten them? If so, what is your opinion of the taste?

Wishing you a great weekend. My next post will be Monday, Sept. 17, when I will share photographs of a special event I'm attending tomorrow (Saturday).


  1. All of these specialities are new to me. Somehow, the MoonPie resembles ( the way it looks ), of a giant French ( can´t remember the name ) cookie, which come in different colors, only in mini sizes, I´m sure you know what I mean.
    This post gave me an idea to be a copy cat.
    I´ll also ( soon ) do a post on some of southern Finland´s favorites, though I know that sushi, pizza and hamburgers are the most popular ones over here too,
    Have a nice weekend!

    1. Hi Mette,
      The resemblance is there, but the MoonPie doesn't come near tasting as good as those delicate French macaroons. I would love to see a post on favorite foods in your country; will look forward to seeing it!

  2. I have had a GooGoo Cluster in Seattle. We got to know about Moon Pies from the TV show Big Bang Theory, since Sheldon's Meemaw calls him "Moon Pie" and he actually explained about the cookie at some point. When I saw them recently in Tulsa, I almost bought one just for the experience, but noting the fat and sugar content, I decided to pass. One of my favorite discoveries in Tulsa has been the Cherry Mash bars. I love those.
    I always have Black Eyes Peas on New Year's Day, and love Turnip Greens and Cornbread. Since I dislikeI the taste of coffee, I have avoided Red Eye Gravy.
    I hadn't thought of it before Mette mentioned it, but the French Macaron (macaroon) does resemble a Moon Pie. It is a totally different taste and texture, being almond based and meringue like.

    1. Hi Beryl,
      Didn't know about the Moon Pie character, as I've never seen the program. You are so right; those MoonPies are made from nasty things. Been years since I've had a Cherry Mash; in fact, don't think they are available here.
      The Red Eye Gravy doesn't have a coffee taste at all; just the ham and salt taste. I think the coffee is added for color only.

  3. This is such a fun post, and many foods I have never seen before. I have enjoyed corn bread and hush puppies very much, also grits, greens and okra in Texas and Alabama. Oh and must mention Southern Fried Chicken - yum! Love the look of the GooGoo Cluster, but not so sure about the Moon Pies!

    1. Hello Patricia,
      I could have gone on and on, and if I had, would have definitely included the fried chicken and okra. Then there's banana pudding, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a host of other regional favorites. You haven't missed much with the MoonPie!

  4. Moon pie bet it is the only one on the planet (chuckle)
    Think I will stick with the blackeye beans,as I eat them at least once a week I must be the luckiest person on the planet.

    Have a lucky Sunday.Ida

    1. Hello Ida,
      MoonPies are NOT out-of-this-world good!! Thanks for the play on words in your comment!

  5. The moon pie and RC Cola snack was such a treat when we were kids - lots of it and as you said cheap - 5 cents each! The pies were individually wrapped and sold the same until later they began packaging them in a box, 10 or 12 to a box the size of a saltine cracker box, and they were never the same to me.
    Good memories of the past. I remember the large size 10 or 12 ounce bottle of the RC Cola as well as Double Cola. Mother always wanted to buy 6 oz cokes which was hardly enough for us to divide - as we usually had to do.

    1. Hi Sissy,
      It was funny about those MoonPies. Even tho I didn't really like them, I found once I started I couldn't stop eating them. Soft drinks have never tasted as good in cans or plastic as they did in glass bottles. Or maybe it was because we only occasionally had one that they tasted so good.

  6. We routinely make cornbread, eat black eyed peas (always on New Year's day as you say) and frequently have turnip greens (or other home grown greens such as collards). I've heard of Moon Pies and RC Cola but not tried them. I don't like carbonated drinks in general but if a Moon Pie showed up in my grocery story I'd try one just to see what everyone is talking about.



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