Caroline Allison

An old neighbor of mine once told me that her childhood dentist in Chattanooga used to sweeten up his young clientele by giving them a Moon Pie and RC Cola before their teeth cleaning. The combination of fizzy cola and sticky cookies isn’t just for ensuring a steady supply of dental patients, though. Each year, the small town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, hosts a Moon Pie and RC Cola festival a mandatory stop for any Southerner with a sweet tooth.

MoonPies were created back in 1917 when a Kentucky coal miner asked a traveling salesman from the Chattanooga Bakery to create “a snack as big as the moon.” He told the bakery the request and they came up with a sweet treat that sandwiched a giant marshmallow between two graham crackers all enrobed in chocolate, which they dubbed a MoonPie. The creation was a hit and generations of Southerners have snacked on the tasty lunchbox treats ever since. By the time 1992 rolled around, the company had grown, added new flavors, and was ready to celebrate its 75th anniversary—and the town of Bell Buckle was happy to help.

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The town, which was founded near Chattanooga back in 1852, decided to throw a giant party for the chocolate pie—and why not throw in a little party for RC Cola, too? After all, as Atlas Obscura points out, in the South, the MoonPie’s most natural accompaniment is the Georgia-made soda, RC Cola, which back in the day, could both be purchased for a nickel, earning themselves a reputation as a “working man’s lunch.” So, when Bell Buckle decided to throw MoonPie a party, it was only natural to add RC Cola into the mix, too. Hence the RC Cola and MoonPie Festival was born and it has now brought together MoonPie fans and RC Cola enthusiasts for more than 25 years.

Held on the third Saturday of June, attendees pour into Bell Buckle’s downtown for live music, dancing, contests, games, a parade, and the ceremonial cutting of the world’s largest MoonPie. Free sweet sandwiches and sodas are distributed in abundance

The festivities start with a RC-MoonPie 10 Mile Run & 5K Fun Run. Then there’s a craft fair, an RC and MoonPie Parade, a king and queen are crowned, RC & MoonPie games are played, there’s live music, dancing (presumably to Bill Lister’s “Gimme an RC Cola and a MoonPie”), and a gathering of the Knights of the MoonPie Round. They also serve up the world’s largest MoonPie, undoubtedly with plenty of RC Cola to wash it down. 

Of course, Bell Buckle has more to offer than just the festival, including a charming main street, live music venues, and renowned barbecue spots, and it’s well worth a stop on your way through Tennessee. However, if you are there for the RC Cola and MoonPie Festival, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards.

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