There are a lot of Southern snack items we would pledge loyalty to. We’ll vow our undying love for pimento cheese and modjeskas. We’ll eat cheese straws with abandon while sipping on an Ale-8-One, or RC Cola, or Cheerwine. But there’s one Southern snack that’s winning everyone’s hearts and minds these days, and it’s always had ours. Readers, we need to talk about MoonPies.
The MoonPie was invented over 100 years ago, when, reportedly, a coal miner told a traveling salesman named Earl Mitchell that he wanted a snack “as big as the moon”. Earl supposedly reported this request back to his bosses at Chattanooga Bakery. They proceeded to dip some graham crackers and marshmallows in chocolate, and they’ve been making MoonPies ever since. One MoonPie originally cost 5 cents, and they were soon flying off the shelves faster than they folks at Chattanooga could make them. MoonPies have lasted the test of time — 100+ years now — and since that first fateful day they’ve come out with new sizes and flavors and even been incorporated into an unofficial combo meal (RC Cola and a MoonPie, the working man’s lunch). Though they cost about a dollar a piece now, depending on the quantity in which you buy them. They’re even thrown from parade floats at Mardi Gras, and each year their special seasonal flavors are timed to the New Orleans tradition. What is more Southern than that?
And I love MoonPies. After all, they’re basically just a portable s’more, and who doesn’t want the taste of s’mores anytime, anywhere, campfire or not. They invoke a nostalgia in me similar to any of the many various Little Debbie products that populated my childhood (though I should be clear that they are very much not the same thing). They’re thing stuck in your lunch box as a nice surprise, reminders of snack time at day camps gone by.
At the same time that MoonPies continue to be delicious, and utterly un-nutritious, the thing about MoonPies I find myself most appreciating is their Twitter account. Now brands are all over Twitter these days. Some opt for dry, formal press releases; others stick to customer service. And then there are some that attempt to forge a personal, humorous voice, to varying degrees of success. MoonPie blows them all away. They are an utterly charming follow on Twitter, with tweets that are a wonderful combination of ridiculous, funny, dark, poignant, and sometimes so very human. I don’t know who their social media manger is, but he or she is definitely not paid enough.
Clearly they’re doing their job right, since following them on Twitter was the impetus for my writing this post. And, more importantly for their bottom line, it was also the impetus for me to buy a whole ton a MoonPies. In honor of the recently-passed centennial of this wonderful snack, myself and friend-of-the-blog Jason undertook a taste test to rank all of the available flavors of MoonPies from best to worst. This is clearly the definitive ranking and not at all colored by our personal tastes.
MoonPies these days come in five flavors: chocolate, vanilla, banana, strawberry, and salted caramel. I procured a variety pack of mini-pies, and we embarked on a taste test. Each of these “mini” pies is about half the size of a regular MoonPie. Still, if we learned anything from this taste test, it’s that no one should eat five MoonPies of any size all in one sitting. Taste test responsibly, kids.
We began with traditional chocolate, just to make sure we had a base of what a MoonPie is supposed to taste like. We then moved on to vanilla, banana, strawberry…and then we had to take a break before salted caramel, because iron as our stomachs may be, it was a lot. Our findings are as follows:
The original MoonPie is most superior and banana is the worst (unless you’re friend-of-the-blog/wife-of-the-Jason Sarah, in which case banana is for some reason your favorite). Vanilla is a MoonPie for people who don’t like chocolate and also aren’t interesting. Strawberry was surprisingly tasty. Salted Caramel is just butterscotch, but still tastes good.
In the end, we barely made a dent in my mini MoonPie stockpile. But we all learned something valuable. We celebrated a time-tested snack the way its Twitter account would want us to, and we came to a truly 21st century appreciation for this time-honored Southern tradition. Dear Moonathan, we love you so. Let’s be friends forever?