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A moon pie is a modern-day pastry food, invented during the first half of the 20th century. It consists of two graham crackers shaped into round cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center. The confection is then dipped in chocolate (or other flavors).
Moon pies are seen as a unique creation of the United States' South, where they have been a perennial favorite since their inception. The story behind the name "moon pie" began in 1917, though the exact details have passed on into urban legend. Supposedly, a bakery salesperson from Chattanooga, Tennessee named "Mr. Mitchell" visited a nearby coal mining town, and asked what kind of snack food the miners would like to eat. He was told that a popular confection involved graham crackers and marshmallows, and so he asked one of the local miners how big he wanted the snack to be. The miner made a circle with his hands and outlined the moon, which had risen in the sky at that time. "As big as the moon and twice as thick," he replied. Mr. Mitchell used this as the inspiration for the "moon pie."
Moon pies reached the peak of their popularity during the 1950s, when many workers bought them as an inexpensive snack to tide their hunger for a while. Around this time, the typical cost of a moon pie was about five cents, and a soda to drink was also a nickel. The popular legend of moon pies states that R.C. Cola became the drink of choice to accompany a moon pie, because a serving of R.C. Cola was typically larger than a serving of Coca-Cola or other sodas. The combination of "an R.C. Cola and a moon pie" became inseparable, and was often referred to as the "working man's lunch." At an average cost of ten cents, the food combination became an institution (in part, by references to it in the comedy routines of Brother Dave Gardner).
The moon pie is a traditional throw of Carnival krewes in Mobile, Alabama and other communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, although it is seldom seen in New Orleans or other communities further west. The westernmost outpost of the moon pie as an important Carnival throw is Slidell, Louisiana, which has a parade called "Mona Lisa Moon Pie."
In the northern regions of the United States, a moon pie is called a "scooter pie." In New England, a similar item is known as a "Whoopie Pie," though chocolate cookies are used instead of graham crackers and the pastry is not dipped in chocolate. Elsewhere, including Canada, it is known as a "wagon wheel." "MoonPie" is a registered trademark of The Chattanooga Bakery. The UK also calls them Wagon Wheels where they are manufactured by Burtons Biscuits.