Once in a Blue MoonPie

Chattanooga Bakery updates packaging for iconic American snack

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- In 1917 Earl Mitchell Sr., founder of Chattanooga Bakery, saw a need for a between-meal snack for local coal miners and, inspired by bakery employees who made their own open-face marshmallow sandwiches, added another graham cracker and the MoonPie was born. Over the years, it became part of country lore, and in 1951, Bill Lister sang its praises in his song RC Cola & MoonPie.

Recently, during Tory Johnston's 12 years as Chattanooga Bakery's vice president of marketing, MoonPie continued to enjoy strong sales growth, even during the recession. "MoonPie is a comfort food and a trusted brand that people grew up with and look to fondly," he said.

Even with MoonPie selling strongly, however, Johnston saw an opportunity for growth by revitalizing the packaging. To do so, he commissioned The Goldstein Group, which specializes in the rebranding of iconic American heritage brands, to update the look of its best-selling product--MoonPie Minis and regular-size MoonPie--by emphasizing the brand's authentic Americana image.

For much of the brand's nearly 100-year history, MoonPies were wrapped in white packages printed with a blue-and-yellow logo. But MoonPie's color combination wasn't proprietary and, in fact, had become generic having been pre-empted by similar blue and white variations rampant throughout the snack packaging category, including Entenmann's, Little Debbie, Hostess, Mallomar, Tastykake and Famous Amos.

To differentiate the brand, The Goldstein Group redesigned the MoonPie packaging using a darker shade of blue than the competition, and incorporated light-blue swirls to enhance the depth of the graphics and represent the fluffy texture of marshmallow. The addition of a field of white stars completes the new night-sky ambiance. "We love how the new packaging celebrates the night sky, playing up the 'moon' aspect of MoonPie, and transforms white, our key brand equity color, into a fluffy cloud," said Johnston.

Similarly, changes to the logo enhance MoonPie's cosmic emphasis and complete the new look.  Under Goldstein's direction, product imagery has been rendered more realistically, which represents a strong departure from previous depictions of MoonPie sandwiches on the packages.

"The new beauty shot is probably the single element we are most concerned with," said Johnston. "We've always focused on making the product photo literal, true to life, but The Goldstein Group insisted that merely showing the consumer what's inside the package wasn't enough."

The new brand mark plays up Moon Pie's heritage while maintaining a sense of whimsical indulgence. The rich new color palette distinguishes itself from MoonPie's competitors while reinforcing the MoonPie brand with its night sky imagery. The digital renderings of MoonPie's sandwiches better convey the taste appeal and texture of the snack's chocolate coating, graham cookies and marshmallow filling.

The new packaging will reach store early in the second quarter.