What to say about a book — The Great MoonPie Handbook — dedicated to a mass-produced “pastry” that's not even a baking book? We like to think of that as an oxymoron, though it would get us thrown out of many a MoonPie-friendly home. Actually, we love this book — though we don't love MoonPies. Consider it a compliment.

The Great MoonPie Handbook doesn't claim the enriched, high-fructose, partially-hydrogenated, marshmallow-filled graham-cracker sandwich is a secret treasure. First published in 1985, this humble “manifesto” from Pelican Press plays up its campiness. In the MoonPies + Kids section, you'll find tips on how to build a MoonPie castle, (something every child aspires to do).

In the history section, we learn that the snack cake was born in 1903, when a Chattanooga, Tennessee flour mill needed to use its extra grain — proof that dessert, not booze, has always been America's true love.

In 1969, the “Double Decker” was born when customers wanted a bigger (i.e. wider) MoonPie but vending machines couldn't handle the girth. Things went “up” instead of “out,” a perfectly logical evolution of the sweet life. Then, in 2001, manufacturer Chattanooga Bakery came out with the “FullMoon,” filled with a fruit paste. A bad idea from beginning to end, it was still a MoonPie fanatic's late-night (albeit short-lived) dream.

These days, the MoonPie seems to be everywhere, inspiring sculptures and NPR segments. It even has its own Twitter feed: @MoonPie.

That's what makes this quirky book so engaging. An apron turned MoonPie bib? Deep-fried Hanukkah MoonPies? A MoonPie box holiday tree? We won't ask. We'll simply enjoy this oddly satisfying vending machine read.

LA Weekly