S’mores and Moon Pies …

 

What in the world would we have done if Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham hadn’t invented the Graham cracker?  How sad would it be if our kids hadn’t grown up with Teddy Grahams?  And, sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya without s’mores wouldn’t be the same! Don’t know about you all, but in the south if you haven’t eaten a Moon Pie, you haven’t lived. And, a cheesecake without a Graham cracker crust is unthinkable.

The Graham cracker also known as a Graham wafer was developed in 1829 by Reverend Graham as a health food. It was part of his diet regimen to suppress what he considered unhealthy carnal urges, source of many maladies according to the good pastor. The New Jersey Reverend often lectured on “self-abuse” as it was commonly called at the time. One of his many theories was that one could curb one’s sexual appetite by eating bland foods. Shut my mouth and lock the door! Of interest, another man who held this belief was Dr. John Kellogg, the inventor of cornflakes.

It’s somewhat ironic that both men developed their product as healthy alternatives; and today, both the Graham cracker and many of the Kellogg cereals are at the top of our list of healthy foods.

The true Graham cracker is made with Graham flour, a combination of finely-ground unbleached-wheat flour with the wheat bran and germ coarsely-ground and added back in providing nutrition and flavor.  From 1851, it was known by the British as a digestive biscuit.

Today, many modern “Graham crackers” are made of the refined, bleached white flour to which the Rev. Graham was implacably opposed. Some commercial Graham crackers are no longer considered health food, but have remained popular as a snack food and breakfast cereal with greater amounts of sugars and other sweeteners than in the original recipe (which may have been unsweetened), and far less Graham flour, often with no whole wheat flour whatsoever. In fact some of these commercial “Graham crackers” are topped with a thick coating of cinnamon and sugar or have chocolate flavoring or coatings added. I just purchased reduced-fat Grahams and they are yummy.

So, let’s take a look at some of the food items we wouldn’t have if Reverend Graham hadn’t invented his healthy cracker.

There’s the larruping good Graham cracker pie crust for the American cheesecakes. It has become increasingly popular for use as a cream pie crust and is imitated by the Oreo-style crusts made from the crushed chocolate and cream cookies, we all love.

S’more appears to be a contraction of the phrase, “some more.” While the origin of the dessert is unclear, the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the publication Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts of 1927. The recipe is credited to Loretta Scott Crew, who reportedly made them by the campfire for the Scouts. It is unknown whether the Girl Scouts were the first to make s’mores, but there appears to be no earlier claim to this snack. Although it is unknown when the name was shortened, recipes for “Some Mores” are in various Girl Scout publications until at least 1971.

And, let’s not forget the Moon Pie made from marshmallow crème and Graham crackers.

Marshmallow cream (fluff) was first sold in glass jars in 1925. The sealed jars provided a longer shelf life allowing shipments outside of New England. By 1929, fluff had made its way to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Miners wanted a snack that was cheap and filling for their lunch. One of the miners held up his hands towards the sky, making a shape of the moon with his hands, and said that he wanted the cake that big. A salesman for the Chattanooga Bakery, Earl Mitchell, Sr., noticed this practice when he stopped by on his bakery goods route. Pretty soon, the only sales that were made by the bakery salesman were for Graham crackers. He asked one of the miners about the snack and ended up discussing a product with them.

Later when Mitchell was explaining his low sales to M.P. Shauf, the general foreman and chef for the Chattanooga Bakery, the salesman relayed the miners ideas to Shauf, who decided to make something for them to buy. One day in late 1929, after several different recipes, he made a full size pie with Graham crackers and marshmallow fluff. That same day, he had his 3-year-old grandson with him at the bakery and offered him a pie to taste. Because the pie had small indentions where the marshmallow cream was cooked and bubbles had popped, Stanley said it looked like the moon.  Shauf yelled “Moon Pie” so loud that it scared his grandson to tears. The invention of the Moon Pie ensured the Chattanooga Bakery’s survival just as the Great Depression began.

Okay for the real southerners, we all know about the custom of eating Moon Pies and RC Cola which is a century old. (Let’s not confuse its full name Royal Crown Cola  with Royal Crown Canadian whiskey and Coca-Cola or as we know it plain ol’ Coke.) Precisely how and when people began the custom of drinking RC Cola with Moon Pies 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 1950’s, by Big Bill Lister, “Gimmee an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.” This was also shown to be the janitor’s lunch in “The Green Mile”. There is a Moon Pie and RC Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and a Moon Pie Eating Contest in Bessemer, Alabama.  And,if you’ve ever been to Pulpwood Queens’ Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas, they serve Moon Pies and RC colas. Or they did when I was there in 2005.

I was raised on Graham crackers, and in turn my daughters ate them and now they are a favorite of my grandchildren.

So, tell me about your favorite Graham cracker treat?

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

28 thoughts on “S’mores and Moon Pies …”

  1. Hi Phyllis! There’s a cheesecake in my fridge as I type–complete with graham cracker crust. It’s for my dil’s birthday party tonight. The crust is the best part IMHO!

  2. Yummy, Vicki. I love Graham cracker crusts! Thanks for checking in with me on the blog. As you know, for whatever reason (probably something I did) nobody could post a comment until a few minutes ago, so thanks for being the first, sister filly! Hugs, P

  3. Yay, you got the comments turned on. Love your blog today. Who would ever thought that Graham crackers have been around so long? Certainly not me. I can eat my weight in Graham crackers. There are so many things you can do with them. I never did eat too many Moon pies though.

    Gotta run to mentor I’ll be back soon to finish my comment.

  4. Interesting article. The Grands and I still eat them crmbled up in a glass of milk and with peanut butter spread.
    Interesting article as usual for you. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Hi Linda, thank you for trying to get the comments turned on today. Glad Pam got it done for us … waving at you, Pam. I love Graham crackers, but like you I’ve eaten Moon pies, but they were always too big for me. Now they have smaller ones, which I occasionally put in my grand’s lunches, along with the biggies! Have a great day.

    Hi Vicky. When I was looking at pix for the blog there were a lot with Nutella and Grahams. You got the crumbling up in a glass of milk from our Grannie! She, as well as Mother and Bobo, always crumbled up just about anything sweet and put it in milk, particularly buttermilk. Years ago, I learned never to drink anything after my husband has had cookies and milk because he dips in the milk. We were on vacation and he shared his cup of milk and there were cookie crumbs floating on the top. I’m a tad of a finicky eater. Thanks for stopping by. Love, P

  6. This is such a great blog, Phyliss! I grew up on Graham crackers and Teddy Grahams. For a special treat we’d spread frosting or a mixture of butter and honey on the crackers. And I just can’t imagine my cheesecakes or chocolate pies without them.

    Loved the history of the Moon Pie, too, poor grandson. :o)

  7. Thanks, Kirsten, for stopping by. I can only imagine the grandson screaming and crying at his grandfather’s excitement, but I bet he ate his share of Moon Pies! I don’t remember putting frosting between Grahams, but butter and honey, you bet! Have a great day. Hugs, P

  8. S’Mores, for sure, although my sister-in-law made a mean cheesecake with graham-cracker crust.

  9. Liz, I remember making S’Mores when I was in Girl Scouts, but had no idea the organization might well have been the originator of the yummy treats. Go Girl Scouts! Thanks for stopping by, and I bet your SIL does make a wonderful cheesecake. Making me hungry! Hugs, Phyliss

  10. This probably doesn’t sound very tasty to some but I grew up eating them. My Mother would spread peanut butter on a graham cracker, place sliced dill pickles on it and make a sandwich. Yummy since it is sweet and sour at the same time.

  11. Great topic today Phyliss… We never had Graham Crackers growing up in our home.. I did not have them unitil I went to a friends house…And Moon Pies that I know of were not popluar here when I was a child either.. In fact I don’t think I know very many people who do buy them to this day.. Of course my first taste of Craham crackers were Smores. We would roast our marshmellows, get the chocolate and Graham Crackers and S’Mores..Now you can buy all the ingredients for them in one package… Ah Progress.

  12. Terrific post, Phyliss! I guess my favorite is the S’More…and at our first-ever family camp out last summer, I found GIANT marshmallows at Walmart. As big as a graham cracker square. Way fun!

    But to digress: if anybody wants a yummy dip for fresh whole strawberries, take a jar of that marshmallow cream and mix it with a brick of low-fat cream cheese. Garnish with some fresh mint. Very delish. xox

  13. YUMMY! Love S’mores & Moon Pies! In my household we also love chocolate pudding in a graham cracker crust…

  14. Love this, Phyliss. I can’t tell you how many times I made my own cookies for my kids with graham crackers and a tub of Pillsbury cake icing. LOL AND, that worked great for me as a Girl Scout troop leader, too, when I needed enough snacks to feed an army. (or a troop!) Anyhow, I love RC and a moon pie just as well as the next good southern (or western!) girl. I love S’mores, too. This was very interesting!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl P.

  15. Forgot to say, my mom did the crumbling thing in a glass of sweet milk. Her favorite was crumbling up homemade cornbread in it. I have a recipe for sweet cornbread that is almost like cake–it’s soooooo good. I usually just use a mix, but sometimes…I have to make the “from scratch”–but I don’t crumble.
    Cheryl P.

  16. PHYLISS!!!! I am now so stinking hungry it’s just EVIL. I’m dieting you know!!!!
    (and if you don’t know then somehow you missed the whining, congratulations!)
    Graham Cracker Crust. I made that many times. I remember well the miracle of the butter drizzled onto the crushed crackers, the sugar added, pressing the crust out with my hands, making it THIN so there was some to spare.
    sigh
    🙁 This is a hard day for me, now. Thanks to YOU, Phyliss.
    When i was a kid we used to break up (but not crush) graham crackers and pour milk over then and eat them with a spoon as a snack. I loved that. So yummy.
    🙁
    I LOVE THOSE with the cinnamon and sugar topping. I had to quit buying those when the kids were young. I’d just eat the whole stinking box. (which is no doubt why I’m dieting today!)
    🙁

  17. One of my daughters broke up with her boyfriend (this was long ago). It was bad, she was pretty broken up about it, even though it was (of course) all his fault.
    She was at a friend’s house and the mom heard she’d broken up with the guy and she (the mom) got out a jar of Marshmallow Creme and a spoon. Handed it to my daughter and said, “Let’s just talk about what a rat he was.”
    So my daughter ate the better part of a jar of Marshmallow and they trashed talked her guy and men in general for a while and by the end my daughter was almost completely healed from the break-up.
    Try this strategy at home.
    (also plan to be dieting one of these days)

  18. OH MY GOSH CHERYL! Graham Crackers and frosting. We made those all the time. YUM. Chocolate frosting is best.
    I like S’mores but honestly they’re so messy I’ve never been able to fully endorse them as a treat.

    I’d rather just toast the marshmallow, eat it. Eat the chocolate bar.
    Eat the Graham Crackers.
    The separate parts but not the whole.
    I think there’s a life philosophy buried in that eating style but I can’t quite put it into words.

  19. Joye, I must admit a pickle with peanut butter on a Graham cracker doesn’t sound that tasty, but I have a grandson who will be here from school in about an hour and I’m bettin’ he’ll love it! I’m going to try. Now, this comes from a girl who grew up on Miracle Whip on bread as a sandwich. No meat, no cheese, just Miracle Whip! Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, Phyliss

  20. Love s’mores as does the rest of the family. However, I will have to say cheesecake with a nice graham cracker crust is my favorite. When the kids were small, graham crackers were a favorite snack. A sweet, but not too sweet.

    When I was a Scout leader for both boys and girls, I always did cake or cookie decorating. Graham crackers were what they got to put the left over frosting on to eat it. I can’t believe how much frosting some of the kids were able to get on a single cracker. Of course, they make wonderful building material for small “gingerbread” houses.
    Thanks for an interesting and fun post.

  21. Kathleen, I think you might have to acquire a taste for Moon Pies. Frankly, they aren’t as appealing to me as they were when I was younger, but now I’m more careful of what I put in my body ’cause I’m gettin’ old! I saw those packages of S’Mores where you can just buy them without having to buy all the other stuff, which is good when you want one or two. Thanks for dropping by. Hugs, Phyliss

  22. Tanya, I bought some of those huge marshmallows at WalMart and man are they ever big. Perfect for S’Mores but just not the same for picking up a handful of miniatures and popping in your mouth. Your dip sounds wonderfulmus. I’ve done something similar, but the mint sounds great. Thanks sister Filly for coming by for a visit.

    Colleen, I like to put chocolate pudding in a graham cracker crust, too. Top it with Cool Whip, and you’ve got a quick dessert. Thanks for the reminder. Hugs to both of you, Phyliss

  23. Waving madly at Cheryl P. I was also a girl scout leader and now both of my girls are with the Boy Scouts. It was sure neat to see them all decked out in their “uniforms” at the Blue and Gold Banquet a couple of weeks ago. I never made S’mores from a cake mix, but I see it’s popular now. I’m shivering at the cornbread and milk mixture because that’s exactly what my Grannie mixed together. I was thinking cake, but when you said cornbread, it brought back all kinds of memories. Wonderful ones (except for the texture thingie) Thank you, from one RC and Moon Pie sister to another. See you on Friday in Oklahoma City. Hugs, P

  24. Oh Mary, you make me laugh so hard! I really should have began with some type of a warning or waiver of liability … if you’re dieting, as I am LOL, please do not read any further! LOL I think you’re idea of S’mores being too soggy is a good thought. I agree … eat the marshmallows after being roasted, eat the Dark only chocolate (cause remember dark chocolate is better for us than milk chocolate) and then the Graham crackers!!!

    The story about your daughter is priceless. I can just see it. Hope you’ve used it in a book because it’s just too funny plus exactly how a young woman would react. Now my question … does your daughter remember the guy’s name now? You are just too much fun, friend. Hugs, P

  25. Hi Tracy and Pat, we’re have our Amarillo Relay for Life this weekend and my grands have a team. They are going to do marshmallows dipped in cream and sprinkles as one of their projects. They are also going to bake cupcakes and let the people decorate them. Good ideas, ladies! My grands were born and raised literally ACS Relay for Life, since my oldest daughter has been with them for about 17 years. Your suggestions made me hungry. Maybe I need a disclaimer for myself! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your stories. Hugs, P

  26. My family used to eat graham crackers with a whit buttercream frosting with just a touch of peanutbutter mixed in. Loved it…..maybe my snack after while!

  27. Hi Connie, now that sounds good! I just might join you for a night time snack.

    Thanks to you and everyone else who stopped by today and left messages. It was a fun day with lots of memories. Since I don’t have any butter cream frosting, Connie, I think I’ll have Graham crackers and a cold glass of milk.

    Goodnight and big hugs to all, Phyliss

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