The MoonPie and R.C. Cola combination is still popular today in our southern states. Every southerner has fond memories of the MoonPie and R.C. Cola. The occasional afternoon walk to the local store to get a MoonPie and an R.C. Cola was once commonplace. The hurried traveler while stopping for a gas fill up, would regularly purchase an R.C. Cola and MoonPie to tie him or her over.
“Gimme a big ole R.C. Cola and a MoonPie” is as fixed in my memory as fried chicken for Sunday dinner in those days when a dime could get you the satisfying delight of this round cream marshmallow confection along with a big R.C. It goes without say that the request of a MoonPie was always followed by “and a big R.C. to wash it down with.” One without the other was considered heresy.
MoonPies have been made at the 100-year-old Chattanooga Bakery since 1917. Earl Mitchell Jr., who died two years ago, said his father came up with the idea for MoonPies when he asked a Kentucky coal miner what kind of snack he’d like to eat. The answer: something with graham cracker and marshmallow and dipped in chocolate. When Mitchell’s father asked how big it should be, the miner looked up in the night sky and framed the full moon with his hands.
It’s hard to find someone in the South who doesn’t get nostalgic just thinking about them. In the 1950s, Big Bill Lister sang about them in “R.C. Cola and MoonPie,” but no one knows exactly why the soft drink and chocolate snack became famous together. The most popular theory: During the Depression, they were both cheap (a nickel a piece), and they came in bigger servings than their competitors. For a dime, a MoonPie and an R.C. Cola quickly became known as the workingman’s lunch.
Jennifer Crutchfield, who was interviewed on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, has eaten MoonPies all her life. “I’m just not sure how to describe it. It’s got to be tasted. It’s a dollop of heaven,” she says with a laugh.
On one of her programs, Oprah Winfrey fondly remembered MoonPies and R.C. Cola from growing up in the South. The audience also had the chance to sample the classic treat. The memory of them strikes a nostalgic chord for many us, made even more memorable because they reflect the times when money was tight and a dime could buy us such a satisfying treat.
And like other things like apple pie, hot dogs, and hamburgers, they are uniquely American. Long live this symbol of Southern culture.
Sweet potato side dish – so good it is almost dessert.
Sweet Potato Souffle
3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with the white sugar, soft butter or margarine, beaten eggs, vanilla and milk.
Spoon into a 2 quart oven proof baking dish.
Combine the coconut, flour, brown sugar, chopped nuts and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes.