If you have been around for the shortest length of time, you know that I LOVE festivals. Especially if they have a particularly good theme, and even more so if the theme is food.
Enter: the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival I went to this past Saturday!!
This festival celebrates the original Southern fast food – an ice cold RC Cola and a fresh Moon Pie. (A pastry which consists of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in a flavored coating – credit Wikipedia). Hosted in historic Bell Buckle (yes that’s BELL not BELT) Tennessee, this June event is now in it’s 19th year.
Precisely how and when people began the custom of eating Moon Pies with RC Cola is unknown, although it is likely that their inexpensive prices, combined with their larger serving sizes, contributed to establishing this combination as the "working man's lunch". The popularity of this combination was celebrated in a popular song of the 1950s, by Big Bill Lister, "Gimmee an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.". In 1973, NRBQ had a minor hit with the song, "An RC Cola and a Moon Pie." (credit Wikipedia)
Several events comprise the festival, which kick off in a 10 mile run at 7am – naturally I was not there for that. There is also a parade, and even a crowning of the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’. Games, arts & crafts, musicians, performers, and contests occur throughout the day. It all reaches the grand finale of a communal sharing of the World’s Largest Moon Pie! Let’s get the show started with my experience:
Welcome to Bell Buckle Tennessee, population 500, middle of nowhere, approx an hour south of Nashville.
Not too many options for hotels in Bell Buckle (although several B&B’s I’m sure), so we ended up staying in downtown Nashville. A cool mural greets in the lobby of the HGI – West End.
This is a likely view you might see on your way there.
If I ran the show I would not allow vendors to set up in front of this cool mural!
One of the quaint houses you’ll see as you pull into town.
A short row of antique/craft/general store/café line the main street that face the railroad tracks.
If you like antiques you will love this place. So much to choose from.
Something for everyone – key collections, kitchenware, and so much more.
If you want your hubby to get interested in antiquing, maybe find a massive vintage tool selection to start him out.
Store fronts display the treasures promised inside, sharing the stage with traditional Americana decorations.
An antiques vendor freely shared the gossip of the General Store – “I heard they’ve got over 10,000 Moon Pies!”
Old and new side by side
Individually wrapped pies – Chocolate, lemon, strawberry, vanilla, mint, peanut butter – the sky’s the limit!
After escaping the mob in the General Store, we can see that the crowd remains despite the heat this Saturday!
Some of the sinfully delicious homemade canned goodies featured. Other booths had jams, kettle corn, and sugared almonds. There were some other craft booths as well. My only disappointment was that several booths featured plastic sunglasses, cell phone cases, and other miscellaneous made-in-China crap. As a crafter myself, I have witnessed firsthand that it can be hard for a buyer to distinguish value in the handmade product when it resides next to the mass produced items. Plus that is one main reason I come to small towns like Bell Buckle – to get away from the “Walmart-ization” of the world!
Clearly this lady is a rebel - A Coca-Cola at an RC Cola festival!?
And now the final frenzy – the cutting of the world’s largest Moon Pie! I did miss some of the earlier events, so click here to check out the 10 mile race/parade/etc.
A glimpse of the pie – I thought it’d be bigger, but hey if that’s the world’s largest – and free, I won’t complain!
Thar she blows! Look at that glorious hunk o’ Moon Pie.
Generally I’m not a fan of ‘participation’ ribbons – but hey it’s my claim to fame as a sampler of the World’s Largest Moon Pie!!
I hope you enjoyed my RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival photos, let me know if you have ever gone to this festival! If you haven’t, what’s the best or most unique festival you’ve ever been to?? I’m dying to put them on my list – thanks in advance for sharing!
“Give me a RC Cola and a MoonPie
I’m playin’ Maple on the hill
I’ll catch that freight train on the blind
Leave my corn down at the mill
’Cause I sold my calf for a dollar and half
So Brother, I can pay the bill
Give me a RC Cola and a MoonPie
I’m playin’ Maple on the hill.”
This delicious duo was the inspiration behind Bill Lister’s country tune “A RC Cola and a MoonPie” in the 1950s, but the pair had been together long before that. In the 1930s, they were filling the bellies of coal miners and laborers alike, earning the nickname “working man’s lunch.” It was a lot of snack for a little money, which was ideal for the working class. In fact, you could get a MoonPie and RC Cola for just five cents each! Before the two became famous, where exactly did these cultural icons get their start?
The MoonPie was born in 1917 at the Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At its start, the bakery, founded in 1902, sold about 150 products. Some of the products we still recognize today, like Vanilla Wafers and Graham Crackers. Mr. Earl Mitchell, Sr., a bakery salesman, got the idea for the MoonPie after he visited a company store that catered to coal miners. Not always having time for lunch, a snack that was filling would do that trick for the hard working miners. When Mr. Mitchell asked how big the miners wanted the snack to be, one held up his hands, framing the moon. With the size in mind, all that was left was the recipe. After witnessing some of the factory workers dipping graham crackers into marshmallow, Mr. Mitchell thought it would be even better to add another cracker, and then coat the whole thing in chocolate. This combination was an immediate hit, and the MoonPie quickly became a regular item for the bakery, as well as found a soft spot in the hearts of the people in the South. During WWII, the Chattanooga Bakery sent thousands of MoonPies to our troops, a tradition that still carries on today. Though as the years have gone on and other variations of the MoonPie have been created—the Double Decker was made in the 1960s to help prevent the snack from slipping through the cracks in the vending machine, and between the 1980s and 90s, the Mini MoonPie was born, a response to mothers complaining that the Original and Double Decker MoonPies were spoiling their children’s dinners—nothing beats the Original MoonPie. It ties you to the past, the brand having been around the South for generations. When you walk into a Southern country store and see one, it is hard not to become nostalgic or excited. There is just something about a MoonPie.
Columbus, Georgia, is the birthplace of RC Cola. Though the cola company began in 1905, thanks to Claud A Hatcher, RC Cola was not born until 1934. Its ancestors, Royal Crown Ginger Ale, Chero-Cola and Melo (later known as Nehi) paved the way for the creation of RC Cola. After the sudden death of Hatcher in 1933, H.R. Mott took over as president of the company and tasked chemist Rufas Kamm with developing a more refreshing cola for the public. The final product was released under the name of Royal Crown, in honor of Hatcher’s first line of beverages. RC Cola was a hit, and the drink became famous on its own as the company began to advertise its product more aggressively. RC Cola was endorsed by Hollywood celebrities like Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, and Shirley Temple, and appeared in colored ads in publications like Good Housekeeping and Saturday Evening Post. Eventually with all the publicity, the cola became the mainstay product, and the company changed its name to Royal Crown Cola Company in 1959.
While it is unclear exactly how the two became such a famous twosome—there are theories, one being that during The Depression, their size (both being larger than their competitors) and price (each only a nickel) made them more appealing—it is clear that you simply cannot have one without the other. Give me a RC Cola and a MoonPie.
Filed Under: Food & Wine, Uncategorized, What's New