The University of Alabama Press will hold its annual warehouse book sale on April 11-13 in the Ferguson Student Center on the University of Alabama campus. During the three-day sale, the Press will offer hundreds of new and backlist titles at incredibly deep discounts. Markdowns will be as high as 50 to 90 percent off the list price with some books priced as low as $2.
All subjects that UAP publishes on will be represented at the sale. Books about Alabama and southern history, civil rights, fiction and literature, archaeology, anthropology, natural history, and communications will be available at great prices.
The warehouse sale is an ideal time to browse and acquire books by authors of local and national note. The spring book sale is a perfect time to stock up on gifts for upcoming graduations, Mother’s and Father’s Day, host/hostess, and occasional gifts.
The sale is open to the public and there is no entry fee.
Cash, debit/credit cards, and checks will be accepted for payment.
The book sale will be held in the Great Hall of the Ferguson
Center at the following dates and times:
Thursday, April 11, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Friday, April 12, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April, 13 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
For questions or further information, please contact University of Alabama Press at 205-348-5180
The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods will be available July 2019
From Moon Pies: Mardi Gras in Mobile
During the month-long Mardi Gras season in Mobile, the
birthplace of Mardi Gras in America, more than thirty parades roll through the
downtown streets, each featuring a dozen floats. And at every parade, off of
every float, the prized catch is a MoonPie, a traditional southern snack made
from graham cookies and marshmallow that comes in a variety of flavors. Parade
crowds chant and clamor for MoonPies. “You can throw a MoonPie at a
two-year-old child and a fifty-year old will knock them out of the way to get
it,” says city councilman Fred Richardson. “If you run out of MoonPies, you
might as well just lay down on the float. You can throw beads for a little
while, but the people will start calling for MoonPies.”1
MoonPies missed in the air are still in play upon hitting
the ground. As Mobilian Carrie Dozier explains, her MoonPies “aren’t caught in
the air, but by scraping my fingernails like a rake on the pavement. It didn’t
hurt! All that mattered was that I got a MoonPie!” Dozier even claims that
MoonPies “from the parades have a different taste. These are the real things!”
And when MoonPies land “tauntingly outside the traffic barricade,” notes parade
goer Kim Kearley, they are retrieved “by savvy children able to perform the
fluid ‘under the barricade leg scissor.’ ” Others bring rakes.
MoonPies were first produced in 1917 at the Chattanooga
Bakery, founded in Tennessee in the early 1900s to use leftover flour from the
Mountain City Flour Mill. The MoonPie traces its origins to a sales call in a
Kentucky coal mining region, where workers toiled “all day long in soot-soaked
underground shafts, chiseling the coal into chunks and loading them into
waiting carts, which were whisked away one after another in an endless,
monotonous ritual,” writes MoonPie chronicler David Magee. “When the break
whistle blew, these mining men wanted a hearty snack, not a small package of
lemon cookies or ginger snaps.”2
When the commissary manager showed no interest in
Chattanooga Bakery products, company salesman Earl Mitchell approached a group
of miners to ask them what they did want. One miner replied that they wanted
something solid and filling for their lunch pails, then held his hands up to
the sky so they framed the moon and said, “about that big.” When Mitchell
returned to the Chattanooga Bakery, workers were dipping graham cookies into
vats of marshmallow and setting them on a windowsill to harden and dry. With
the miners in mind, Mitchell put two graham cookies together with marshmallow
in the middle and chocolate on top. He took samples of the new snack back to
the miners and received a positive response. At the time, MoonPies were one of
two hundred confection items made at the bakery, but they quickly became a
The MoonPie was more than four inches in diameter and sold
for a nickel. Because it was affordable and filling, it was especially popular
among the working class. Similarly, in 1934, the Royal Crown Company in
Columbus, Georgia, began selling RC Cola in sixteen-ounce bottles instead of
the usual twelve, also for a nickel. With the MoonPie as the biggest snack cake
for a nickel and RC Cola as the biggest soda, together they became a popular
ten-cent combination, especially as a workingman’s lunch. Though neither
company made any effort to link the two products, the phrase “an RC Cola and a
MoonPie” became well-known across the South, bolstered by the 1951 hit country
song “RC Cola and Moon Pie” by Big Bill Lister.
Transportation improvements in the 1950s, including new
state and federal highways, more road-worthy vehicles, and more gasoline
stations, “served as a boundary breaker for the MoonPie.”3
The snack was soon sold and consumed nationally, though it was still most
popular in the South and in areas with high numbers of southern emigrants
including Detroit and Chicago, where the MoonPie was a staple snack for
industrial workers. By the late 1950s, the MoonPie had become so popular that
the Chattanooga Bakery produced nothing else.4
Around this time, MoonPies made
their debut as throws in Mobile Mardi Gras parades. Early Mardi Gras throws,
dating to the 1800s, were French bon bons or trick prizes like small bags of
flour that burst when caught. These were eventually banned, and throws reached
a lull until post–World War II, when they became an increasingly integral part
of Mardi Gras parades. In the 1940s and 1950s, taffy candy and serpentine
(rolls of unraveling confetti) were the most common throws, and it was
considered a feat to catch a whole roll of serpentine. “Throw me a whole roll,
mister!” became a common parade shout.
In the late 1950s, city officials banned serpentine
claiming that people choked on it, but some Mobilians insist the serpentine
actually choked the gutters and was a chore to clean up. To replace the missing
serpentine, float riders began throwing new items like rubber balls, beanbags,
candy kisses (chocolate, molasses, and peanut butter), doubloons (coins bearing
mystic society insignia), bags of peanuts, bubble gum, hard candies, and
The thrower of the very first MoonPie is up for debate,
and several local legends have sprung up around it. Complicating the issue is
the fact that many of the legends’ “first” MoonPies were actually local bakery
versions of the Chattanooga Bakery’s MoonPie. Even more perplexing is that all of
the legends are probably true. By the 1960s, the Mardi Gras season was two
weeks long and featured seventeen separate parades, each with numerous floats,
making it highly likely that different people on different floats in different
parades began throwing MoonPies (or versions of them) at the same time.
MoonPies’ real popularity as throws came in the early
1970s when the city of Mobile banned Cracker Jacks (the then favorite Mardi
Gras throw) because the sharp box corners were injuring spectators. MoonPies
perfectly filled the Cracker Jack void. They were soft, easy to throw and
catch, affordable, and had been a southern favorite for decades. They were an
instant Mardi Gras hit. “Oh, to catch a MoonPie!” writes Marie Arnott, who
attended parades in the 1970s. “Something that was actually edible and sweet!
They were doled out sparingly and the chant in the crowd was always for
Over the next few decades, MoonPies grew into a Mobile
Mardi Gras institution. Today, each float rider throws roughly nine hundred
MoonPies during a single parade, estimates Stephen Toomey, owner of the primary
Mardi Gras supply store in Mobile.6 Toomey’s alone
sells 4.5 million MoonPies each Mardi Gras season. And though the streets are
littered with beads at the parade’s end, there are usually no MoonPies to be
found. For months after Mardi Gras, Mobile children find MoonPies in their
lunchboxes and trade each other for favorite flavors. Local newspapers print
MoonPie recipes. In 2003, Doris Allinson Dean published Death
by MoonPie, a cookbook full of creative ways to consume post–Mardi Gras
MoonPies. Though desserts make up most of the book (Dean pairs ice cream and
MoonPies in several), the book also features recipes for dressings, salads, and
sandwiches, including a vanilla MoonPie, ham, and pineapple melt.
Parades have always been the
greatest access point to Mardi Gras for the masses, and as the MoonPie quickly
became the beloved Mardi Gras throw, another parade tradition, also centered on
the public Mardi Gras experience and also unique to Mobile, took root.
Emily Blejwas is author of the novel Once You Know
This and director of the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La
1. History of the MoonPie Rise drawn
from interviews with Barbara Drummond, Steve Mussell, and Fred Richardson,
2009, Mobile, AL.
2. Magee 2006:29–30.
4. Historic information on the MoonPie
drawn from ibid.
5. Personal email from Marie Arnott,
January 25, 2010.
6. Personal interview with Stephen
Toomey, 2009, Mobile, AL.