Moon pies and chopsticks

The only thing better than a weird idea is a weird idea pushed too far. So I unleashed my chopsticks on anything I could find. Pizza didn’t work. But instant oatmeal did, as long as it wasn’t too thin, which was no problem because there is nothing worse than runny oatmeal.

I’ve made a great discovery that combines elements of the East and the West. Like most great discoveries, this one is rooted in making the best of a bad situation. Yes, it’s quite the epic tale.

But first we need to start with the legend. For this we go to the coal mines of the southern United States. In about 1917, a salesman with the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Bakery company encountered some miners. He sought to develop a confectionary product for their lunch pails. And thus was born the “moon pie,” which was essentially a chocolate-covered sandwich with a marshmallow center between two graham crackers.

Moon pies remain, to this day, a staple snack food in the South. They’re commonly sold at checkout counters in convenience stores. A moon pie measures 3-1/4 inches in diameter. Yeah, I actually measured a moon pie.

As good as moon pies are, they are prone to leaving little chocolate crumbs on your shirt. This evidently wasn’t a deal-killer for coal miners back in the day, but those guys never had to confront dry-cleaning bills for Oxford cloth.

So that’s the problem, you see? I was at a loss for a solution. Forks don’t work. They just aggravate the crumbling process.

The problem sat on my shelf for a long time. In dereference to my status as a wayward southern gentleman, somebody gave me an entire box of moon pies. I dug into one moon pie, got reacquainted with the crumb thing, and let the remainder of the box sit fallow. People would ask about the box but I’d just change the subject.

In the meantime, late last year, the flu scare started building steam.

One of my tactics to keep the flu at bay was to cut back on using communal coffee machines and similar devices. This was the result a total gross-out that I mentioned in last week’s column. Incidentally, after I ran that column some of my pals started one-upping me with gross-out stories. These stories are enough to compel anyone to consider moving into a hermetically-sealed bubble. I can’t afford one of those, but I know of a ‘72 AMC Gremlin that’s available. We’re opening escrow next week.

Anyway, as sound as these plans are, you can never be too careful about this flu. So I also decided to cut way back on shoving food into my face with my grubby little mitts. Thus began my field experiment to assess just how much stuff I can eat with disposable chopsticks.

As it turns out, that’s a mighty long list. A Big Mac and fries, for example, are no problem. And, of course, I don’t even have to mention Chicken McNuggets. Talk about a match made in heaven.

The only thing better than a weird idea is a weird idea pushed too far. So I unleashed my chopsticks on anything I could find. Pizza didn’t work. But instant oatmeal did, as long as it wasn’t too thin, which was no problem because there is nothing worse than runny oatmeal.

Which brings me to grits, which is basically a corn-based version of oatmeal. Grits is, like moon pies, a staple of Southern heritage. And instant grits, as long as it’s not too runny, will, like oatmeal, cooperate with chopsticks if you’re careful. No, it’s not ideal, but disposable chopsticks seem more convenient to keep around than spoons are, so, well, there you go.

I eventually devoured just about everything possible, and a few things that weren’t, with chopsticks.

Only one thing remained. That thing was the box of moon pies.

And, Eureka! That’s the way to eat ‘em: with chopsticks.

That’s because the alternative is to fumble with the moon pie while it’s in the wrapper, a necessary precaution to avoid getting chocolate on the fingers, but the complexities of this dynamic seem to aggravate the crumb situation. Chopsticks simply wind up being a cleaner play. The secret is to keep the moon pie intact. The chopsticks are used to hold it, not to break it.

Hey, at long last: problem solved. And it was solved with an elegant fusion of Eastern and Western concepts.

That’s my big discovery for the new year. Yes, it’s still early in the year, but I doubt I can top this accomplishment, so I won’t even try.

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Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at EdStephensJr.com. His column runs every Friday.

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