Thursday, July 31, 2014 · 11:32 a.m.

MoonPies for Mardi Gras

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Plain, microwaved, deep-fried, homemade: There are endless ways to indulge in the Chattanooga snack on Fat Tuesday. (Photo: Staff)

Purple, green and gold beads may be synonymous with Mardi Gras, but there’s one out-of-this-world Chattanooga treat that is just as integral to New Orleans' festivities.

The MoonPie—the graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate bite of the Scenic City—has actually been the official Mardi Gras snack throw since the 1970s.

The Chattanooga Bakery website explains that millions of the layered cakes are thrown from floats in the many parades throughout the Big Easy’s 15-day carnival every year.

It all started when parade organizers found themselves in the quandary of replacing the traditional snack throw—Cracker Jacks. It seems the boxes’ edges were somewhat of a hazard for the crowds lining the sidewalks.

The taste for MoonPies

—Single-decker flavors: Banana, chocolate and vanilla

—Double-decker flavors: Banana, chocolate, lemon, orange, strawberry and vanilla

—Mini flavors: Banana, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla 

—Crunch flavors: Mint and peanut butter

Make your own!

With a deep-rooted history in the South that stretches all the way back to 1917, MoonPies were the natural and tasty choice.

Chattanooga Bakery even designed a special purple wrapper to commemorate the honor, featuring the trademark moon decorated in beads, a mask and jester hat.

The Mardi Gras gig wasn’t the first and isn’t the only appearance the Southern snack has made in popular culture.

In the 1930s, coal miners and other blue-collar tradesman dubbed MoonPies the working man’s lunch when it was paired with an RC Cola, each of which cost only 5 cents.

Beginning in WWII, the treat became the go-to taste of home for troops abroad. Chattanooga Bakery continues the tradition of shipping thousands of cakes every year to armed forces bases worldwide.

Honky tonk singer Big Bill Lister put aside the tear in his beer in the 1950s to churn out the country music number “RC Cola and MoonPie.”

The habit of NASCAR fans to make MoonPies part of their race day lunches eventually led to a two-year stint as the official snack cake of the sporting event in 1998 and 1999.

Today, the Chattanooga Bakery’s website reports that almost 1 million MoonPies are made every day, much to the enjoyment of hungry fans across the globe.  

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