It's not Times Square on New Year's, but my town of Mobile, Alabama drops a Moon Pie on December 31st and has done so since 2008. It's a 12-foot-tall lighted mechanical banana colored Moon Pie. We made national news again and I saw several Facebook post about what a Moon Pie has to do with Mardi Gras. Well, we are home to the ORIGINAL Mardi Gras (contrary what those folks over in New Orleans think -- big rivalry, mind you).
Moon Pies have been made at the Chattanooga Bakery since 1917. Earl Mitchell Junior said his father came up with the idea for Moon Pies when he asked a Kentucky coal miner what kind of snack he would like to eat, and the miner requested something with graham cracker and marshmallow which had been 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.
Throwing Moon Pies originally began in Mobile, where they are still the catch of choice for the parades there. But why a Moon Pie? A lot of people that aren’t that familiar with the Mobile style should know that before 1974, food has always been involved as a throw ever since 1949, when Crackerjacks, (peanuts and caramel nuggets) were thrown by a lot of krewes as a treat for the revelers. Crackerjacks, were brought about because they were a cheap alternative to beads.
However, people kept getting beamed with the end of those rectangular boxes. Mobile city officials banned the candied popcorn about 1972. A lot treats and articles preceded the Moon Pie icon as the krewes searched for a replacement.
The first to throw of Moon Pies were the krewe of “Maids of Mirth” in 1974. Soon other krewes followed. They first came in chocolate dipped graham cracker cookies with a marshmallow center. Now, the famed cookies come in also banana, coconut, orange and vanilla. Peanut butter is pretty popular down here, too, and I hear there's strawberry and apple.
Hope you enjoyed your Southern history lesson. (Thanks to Wikipedia and "The History of the Mardi Gras Moon Pie" by Aaron Lane, Planet Radio, copyright March 7, 2011 for the help).