Margaret's Musings: Moonpies and moreIf it’s October, it means I will be on the road to one of six regions of the United States that make up the Great Dane Club of America. Like any other hobby, it is the gathering of the clan, sort of like a gigantic family reunion.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
If it’s October, it means I will be on the road to one of six regions of the United States that make up the Great Dane Club of America. Like any other hobby, it is the gathering of the clan, sort of like a gigantic family reunion. This year, the Great Dane Club of America’s National Specialty Show, which included entries of 361 puppies in the Futurity and 598 dogs in the show, was held in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Whether you go with or without dogs the event offers a break from everyday reality. For a short time you leave your worries behind and immerse yourself in your passion. You can substitute almost any hobby here: cars, truck collections, baseball cards and the resulting exchange of ideas, friendship and camaraderie would be the same.
Always looking to learn about the local culture, on this trip I discovered Moonpies. I was visiting a dog bakery, Bone Appetite, when the co-owner and chief baker, pointed out one of their signature dog treats, a doggie version of the Moonpie. The quest was on to discover everything about them and find a place to buy them.
What a treat to bring home for my human friends. An inexpensive, cultural item that was edible.
It turns out that everyone south of the Mason/Dixon line knows about Moonpies. They have been made by the same company in Chattanooga since 1917. In certain areas of Louisana and Alabama they are the item of choice to throw from Mardi Gras floats and they have a rich history.
According to the official Moonpie Web site, the Chattanooga Bakery, founded in the early 1900s, first started producing Moonpies in 1917. When one of their salesmen, Earl Mitchell Sr., called upon a store that catered to coal miners, he discovered they wanted a ‘solid and filling’ treat they could put in their lunch buckets.
When he asked how big, the miner looked at the rising moon, framed it with his hands and said “about that big,” thus the name of the Southern treat still made at the Chattanooga Bakery.
Since 1917, the product, equivalent to a Southern s’more, took off. By the 1950s Moonpies were so popular the bakery did not have the capacity to make anything else.
Today, they are available online, in gas stations and grocery stores in various flavors and sizes. At over 200 calories per pie, it is not a diet item. I also recommend, following the directions, to heat in the microwave, if you want a s’more treat without the campfire.
Back to the show:
While the dogs are the reason we are all there, to watch or participate, it is the human friendship that makes the event memorable. Mind you for the most part, it is the only time of the year that we see each other. From coast to coast fanciers (that’s what dog folks are called) converge to share.
This year, since I was not producing a mini-daily newspaper for the event, I had more time to enjoy my friends and acquaintances. Frank and Patty, an architect and a nurse transplanted from New Jersey to South Bend, Ginnie, a commercial artist and photographer from South Carolina, Louise, a sculptor from Colorado, Jerry, retired artist for Hallmark Cards, his wife Joy, a retired teacher and Neil, a geneticist from Iowa, are just a few of the folks that make up the cross section humanity drawn together by their love of Great Danes.
While conversation about dogs abounds, we really catch up on everything else, from being misdiagnosed with Lyme’s disease while living in Germany to natural hoof care and everything else in between including my discovery of Moonpies.
You may be wondering how on earth you house over 700 giant dogs in one place. This year the host hotel was the Chattanooga Choo Choo, a train station celebrating one hundred years having been built in 1909. It takes at least three years of planning and thousands of volunteer hours to pull off the event. We are already working on the 2012 show which will be hosted in our region. For the most part, shows go pretty smoothly as long as participants follow some basic ground rules. I suspect the hotels and convention centers that accept the contracts, realize that this event represents a significant financial gain. As a former travel agent, a convention that brings in hundreds of people and utilizes most of the facility for a week, is a customer worth having.
If you are interested in learning more about Moonpies or the art work of some of my acquaintances you may want to visit the following Web sites: www.moonpies.com; www.ginnie.com; www.danesculptor.com or if you are interested in the breed www.gdca.org.