I found it by accident. Usually, nothing can distract me when I'm in the market in downtown Charleston. The table with the tiny metal sculptures never ceases to fascinate me. An alligator made out of nuts and bolts? A golfer designed from wrenches and wire? And the leather wallets with puppy face on it (not actual puppy faces. Yes, the leather comes from cows. But so do the puppy faces, so it's less disturbing. I think. Maybe.)?
I was crossing the street in between the market buildings when my friend way too casually mentioned that there was a MoonPie store. I stopped in the middle of the street.
"What do you mean, a MoonPie store?" I said. I felt the blood drain from my face.
"Like...a store that sells MoonPies," my friend says. Again, way too casually.
I shook my head. Cars and pedestrians angrily swerved around me.
"It can't be," I whispered.
My friend rolled her eyes, pointing behind me. "It's right there."
I whipped my head around. The sun glinted off the sign, blinding me. I raised my hand, and soon the words came into view.
MoonPie, General Store.
Ignoring the oncoming traffic, I rushed over to the store. It’s tucked away to the side of the market place, making it feel like a rustic find. Even though it is technically a tourist hotspot.
But I would like to think I am the only human being to ever find this gem. And I would like to think I know what “rustic” means (can it really be my fault if the only time I see that word is on a wooden square sold at Cracker Barrel?).
There was a chance the MoonPie could have been called something else. The guy who made the MoonPie a thing was responding to a worker’s request for a snack that would fill him up that was as “big as the moon.” Imagine if that worker had said something along the lines of being as hungry as a horse? They could have been called HorsePies. Or, what if the worker had said a snack that was as heavy as his debt? Then we’d have DebtPies.
But, alas, it was the moon he compared his hunger to, and thus the MoonPie was born.
Walking through the doors of the MoonPie store took me back to my family’s beach vacations. We’d always buy a box and eat the pies on the porch, sandy feet kicked back in rocking chairs. I think a good ten percent of my pudge phase in middle school was due to MoonPies. The other ninety was most likely due to emotional instability and an odd love of Cheetos.
The first thing I saw upon walking into the store was a giant rack of different flavored MoonPies. I didn’t know these flavors existed, I thought all you got was moon flavored. Banana, strawberry, and caramel dazzled me in stacks of plastic wrappings. Without thinking, I instantly began gathering them in my arms. The mini MoonPies I tried to shove in the gaps in my arms began to rain down to the floor before an associate brought over a basket.
“Here,” he said, brow scrunched but still showing his customer service smile.
“Ah, thanks,” I said, throwing my load into the basket. A mini MoonPie struck the man in the gut and fell to the floor. “Oh, I’ll get that.”
“No, let me assist,” he said.
For the rest of the visit, I tried to leave mini MoonPies everywhere I went. I’m not sure what brought this out in me, but it became my goal to ruin this guy’s life.
While trying to destroy an innocent bystander to my madness, I was drawn to the back of the store where a giant MoonPie sign and actual moon cutout stood. I cut in front of a family and demanded my friends take multiple pictures of me with my MoonPies in front of the MoonPie.
“Wait, let me get a pic of me mooning the store by the MoonPie,” I said.
It was at this point my friends dragged me away from the photo area and decided it would be best to distract me with t-shirts. While I resisted that day, I have every intention of decking out my entire wardrobe in MoonPie paraphernalia.
When I reached the cashier, I threw down my loot. Perhaps the most fun part of the outing was having my pies packed in a brown paper bag that was sealed with a giant MoonPie sticker (and yes, I did ask for an extra one for myself). Once back home, I dived into the snack that reminded me of beach vacations past and gained a lovely seven pounds in one sitting.
So in short, do not be afraid to stray from your usual path while traveling around Charleston. You may find something quite magical.
UPDATE: The Moon Pie General Store in Charleston is now permanently closed. I'm not crying, you're crying.