A round-up from Kes
2017 is about in the books. Time Magazine has already named its “Person of the Year.” ESPN has rolled out their “Top Ten Plays.” Folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are preparing the “Oscar” ballots. Everyone is rushing to honor some facet of the fading year. And they’ve completely overlooked the event that in my heart and mind overshadows them all.
The Moon Pie turned one hundred years old in 2017!
You talk about a milestone! People all over the world should be standing and applauding for the small factory in Chattanooga that turns out these morsels. Where is the CNN special? How about a national Moon Pie-a-thon Day!
Maybe not enough folks were lucky enough to have grown up out at the end of Stonewall Street in McKenzie, Tennessee. Or over on Magnolia Lane in Oxford, Mississippi. Or between the railroad tracks and the river in Decatur, Alabama…..
I don’t know who the original Moon Pie guy was. But mixing marshmallows between two Graham crackers and covering the whole thing in chocolate was a brilliant idea. Making it “big as the moon” and selling them for a nickel a piece…..that’s a sure fire way to hang around for a century!
Listen, “a Moon Pie and an R. C. Cola” wasn’t an expression or even a “Southern Tradition” back when we were coming along. It was a way of life! We cut fence rows for 5 cents a post. We hauled hay for a penny a bale. I saved lives pulling people out of the deep end of the Twin Pools for 50 cents an hour.
We earned our money. We weren’t about to spend it errantly. I couldn’t possibly guess how many nickels I exchanged for a Moon Pie back in the day…..but I never felt cheated or that I had squandered my money.
A Moon Pie was bigger than a Baby Ruth or a Hershey Bar. It didn’t stick to your teeth like a Tootsie Roll. It wasn’t hard like a Sugar Daddy. It had all the right stuff. And I believe there might have been some healthy food value in the Graham cracker part.
You couldn’t beat the taste. And sure, we occasionally washed down the Moon Pie with a Royal Crown Cola (which also sold for 5 cents). We weren’t thinking about history and I don’t remember Yogi, Buddy or Ricky ever mentioning tradition. We were just young boys living large.
We didn’t necessarily associate the two treats together until we heard Big Bill Lister singing, “Gimme an R. C. Cola and a Moon Pie and play ‘Maple on the Hill.’”
I’m sure you remember Big Bill. He was six foot, seven and was the opening act for Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys back in the early ’50’s.
The song definitely struck a cord. Maybe it was the idyllic notion. You know, the slow country pace….a sultry summer day…..sitting on the back porch…..the wind slowly rippling through the tall pines….. And you were “taking it all in” with Moon Pie in one hand, an R. C. in the other……
We’d hunker down in the shade of Pat Houston’s Grocery and share a Moon Pie after the baseball game in the open lot beside Betty Scates’ house. We figured out the batting line up for our next game, wondered if junior high was going to be more than we could handle and solved a lot of our little world’s problems with our mouths stuffed full of the dissolving delicacy.
Life just seemed better with a half eaten Moon Pie in your hand.
And there were some practical benefits too. Back in the eighth grade I couldn’t get Charlotte Melton to look at me no matter how much I combed my hair. She never got close enough to realize I’d borrowed a splash of Leon’s Old Spice. I was about to give up when I casually mentioned I’d buy her a Moon Pie if she’d walk with me out to Reeder’s Store. Shoot, two weeks, and fifteen Moon Pies later, we were going steady!
We dated until she gained all that weight in high school.
The University of the South is located on a mountain about forty miles or so northwest of Chattanooga. The first chance I got my freshman year I hitched a ride down to the Chattanooga Bakery, Inc. to get a first hand look. You talk about some good folks. They showed me how carefully they made each Moon Pie…..I told them how much life me and Yogi, Buddy and Ricky squeezed out of their very special product!