Photo: Krista72, Flickr.
"Some people thought people would make fun of us," Sharer recalls. "But we had 15,000 people show up and it's going to grow exponentially."
Mobile recently upped its commitment to the dessert, making the MoonPie hoist the Southeast's preeminent New Year's Eve celebration and dedicating an additional $25,000 to marketing the event. This year's festivities include live music, a gala ball and the slow rise of the snack.
"Everyone we knew does drops," Sharer says, explaining why Mobile's MoonPie defies New Year's Eve gravity. "Since the moon does rise, we decided to rise it up over the city."
Mobile's relationship with MoonPies dates back to the 1970s, when an all-female Mardi Gras krewe took a trip to Tennessee. City leaders had lately been admonishing krewes for beaning Fat Tuesday parade-goers with Cracker Jack boxes, a popular throw since the 1950s, intensifying the search for an affordable treat without sharp corners.
The vacationing krewe stumbled upon MoonPies, which -- as Sharer says -- were "round and soft and really tasty." Please note that Mobile does claim to be the original parade-rolling city for Mardi Gras (not that other destination two hours or so west).
Celebrants in Mobile now purchase more than 4 million MoonPies annually, indulging in all eight available flavors. While the banana variety has been described by local reporters as "often ignored and sometimes despised," Sharer says it was the obvious choice for the New Year's honor.
"The big electric one is banana because it shows up better," she says.