Saturday, July 18, 2011, is the 17th annual RC Cola and MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, a few miles off Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. You should go.
There are contests, too, like a watermelon seed-spitting contest and a hog-calling contest. Anyone can enter.
Couple years ago, our daughter, Thing 1, gave it a try. She’s not a city girl; she’s suburban. She did OK spitting a watermelon seed, but she wasn’t much at hog calling. You’re supposed to yell, “Sooo-EEEEEEEEY!” She went, “Sooey?” like she’s trying coax a kitten out from under a bed.
But all that’s just a prelude to the main event, the thing that makes the festival worthwhile: the serving of the World’s Largest MoonPie .
If you’ve never had a MoonPie, it’s a graham cookie-and-marshmallow sandwich dipped in chocolate or some other flavor. They’re usually 3 inches across.
The World’s Largest MoonPie is 3 feet across, probably closer to 4, and it’s 5 or 6 inches thick.
It arrives at the festival bandstand on the roof of a golf cart. If it’s sunny, it’ll be warm and gooey. If it’s cloudy, it’ll just be gooey.
It’s better warm, but it’s OK just gooey.
It’s sliced and served by local dignitaries. Each piece is about the size of a silver dollar (kids, ask your parents), but it’s really rich, you probably couldn’t stomach a bigger piece if you tried.
You wash it down with a cold RC, which may be the only time all year you’ll have one.
As the T-shirts say, it’s a Southern thing.
The story goes that a salesman from the Chattanooga Bakery was talking to a group of Appalachian coal miners back in 1917, and they asked for something filling, because they didn’t always get to break for lunch.
Back in Chattanooga, the salesman saw some workers dipping graham cookies in marshmallow. Someone decided to make it into a sandwich and dunked the thing in chocolate.
By the 1930s, an RC Cola and a MoonPie were known as the working man’s lunch, which says a lot about the state of the Southern diet.
I don’t know how Bell Buckle (population 391, according to Wikipedia) ended up with the MoonPie festival. Bell Buckle is a pretty little Mayberry of a town, though. We always have a great time at the MoonPie festival, so I’m not going to worry about it.