Friday, August 26, 2011

My, My - Chattanooga Moon Pies

Moon Pies, those yummy yet inexpensive graham cracker and marshmallow sandwiches covered in chocolate, shine from Chattanooga, Tennessee. They are as much as Southern staple a RC Cola, grits, and fried chicken. According to Tory Johnson, VP of Marketing, the factory produces a million a day!

Tory shared the story of how these treats came to be:  In 1917 a salesman for the Chattanooga Bakery visited a company store catering to coal miners.  He asked the workers what type of snacks they might enjoy. The miners said they wanted something filling and good tasting.  When asked about a size for the snack, a miner held up his hands to frame the moon and said, "About that big!" So, the salesman kept that in mind. Later, he noticed some folks dipping big graham cookies into marshmallow fluff.  He liked the combination but thought the sandwich needed to be enclosed with chocolate. Thus the birth of the Moon Pie.

Today, the 5th generation family owned business distributes nationally with Virginia, Florida and Texas accounting for 70 percent of sales. Wal-Mart, Dollar General and Cracker Barrel carry Moon Pies. The all-American treats have been served in the White House and on the PGA Masters Tour. 

Over the year many flavors and varieties evolved. The 1960's saw vanilla and banana flavors, and then came strawberry. Later orange and lemon appeared on shelves. In 1998, the company listened to moms who asked for smaller kid-size portions. Now, the mini size pies eclipse 40 percent of the business.
Mini Moon Pies

 In 2008, a crunchy cookie was developed for mint and peanut butter offerings. Sales figures pushed high in the sky.

Many folks prefer to eat the mint flavored pies right from the freezer. If you micro-wave a room temperature moon pie for 8-10 seconds, you achieve a finger licking, gooey campfire s'mores taste. Try it. Mine was good enough to make me howl-- at the moon, of course.

The one and only factory in Chattanooga does not give tours but suggests stopping in to the Moon Pie General Store downtown. In case you're wondering what happens to Moon Pies that don't pass quality control--they are sold to pig farmers. Must be some pretty loony pigs running around. 

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