were first baked by the Chattanooga Baking Company in 1917. Originally designed for coal miners who could not take a work break for a meal, the MoonPie was solid, filling, and circular, fitting snugly inside a worker’s clothes or carried easily in the hand. Earl Mitchell Sr., a bakery salesman, came up with the idea of layering graham crackers with marshmallow; he later added more graham crackers and coated the entire pie in chocolate. The four main flavors of MoonPies produced today are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana.
In the 1930s, MoonPies sold for a nickel apiece, and southern workers fortified themselves with the snack. They soon became an iconic southern treat; paired with the regional RC Cola, they were immortalized in Big Bill Lister’s honky-tonk song “Gimme an RC Cola and a MoonPie.” Since 2008, revelers in Mobile, Alabama, have brought in the New Year with a six-hundred-pound electronic MoonPie that is raised high into the sky as midnight strikes. In addition, MoonPie eating contests and festivals take place throughout the South.
When southern workers migrated north after World War II, they brought MoonPies along. By 1960 the pies were being produced in the Northeast, where they were called Scooter Pies, after the baseball great Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto of the New York Yankees. The Little Debbie Marshmallow Pie, produced by McKee Foods, is a similar snack. See little debbie. In 1964 the Chattanooga Baking Company introduced the Double-Decker, a double-stacked MoonPie with three cookies and two layers of marshmallows.
During a rebranding effort in 1998, MoonPies adopted the tag line “the only one on the planet,” and they are still marketed as being “outta this world!” Also in 1998 the Mini MoonPie was introduced as a response to mothers who wanted a smaller size that would not spoil their children’s dinner. Chattanooga Baking Company often partners with other companies in Tennessee, such as Mayfield, which debuted “moon pie” as its newest flavor of ice cream in 2003: it contains vanilla ice cream, “French silk ribbon” chocolate, and chocolate-covered graham pieces. A million MoonPies leave Chattanooga each day to be distributed across the United States.