A while back, we wrote a blog post listing some of the most popular Korean snacks available to buy online or that you can make at home. In that article, we listed Choco Pies as one of the most popular and well-known snacks available in and out of South Korea. Hey, they are so popular in North Korea that people sell them on the North Korean black market for hefty prices! While reading all about Choco Pies, I learned that the creator based them on the ‘Moon Pie.’ For those who do not know, a Moon Pie is a sweet treat developed and produced in the Southern U.S.A. As a southerner married to a Korean, this led me to wonder… Moon Pie vs Choco Pie: What exactly is the difference?
What Is a Moon Pie?
A Moon Pie (also spelled MoonPie) is a sweet treat made from marshmallow sandwiched between two graham cookies which is then dipped in a flavored coating. While the chocolate coating is the most traditional and classic version, other Moon Pie flavors include salted caramel, banana, vanilla, strawberry, and more.
This sweet treat is not to be confused with Mooncakes, a traditional Chinese baked product typically made during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Who Makes Them?
Chattanooga Bakery, Inc. invented and still produces the American Moon Pie snack. The company still produces its products in Chattanooga, TN.
Moon Pie History:
Like we stated above, Moon Pies are a Southern U.S.A. invention. Since April 29, 1917, Chattanooga Bakery Inc. has been making these sweet treats. Apparently, the Moon Pie was invented when Earl Thach Shauf and his father, Mitchell Poe Shauf, met a Kentucky coal miner. At the time, they asked him what he would like to eat as a snack. In response, the coal miner requested a treat made with graham cracker and marshmallow.
A popular tale, often repeated by Chattanooga Bakery, tells that the miner asked for it to be ‘as big as the moon.’ As such, Chattanooga Bakery named their product Moon Pie!
Since then, the Moon Pie continues to grow in popularity. Now, you can find Moon Pies throughout the United States.
Fun Moon Pie Facts:
- Moon Pies are a traditional ‘throw’ object of Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, parade participants often throw these from a parade float into the crowd. Since this tradition started in 1956, it has spread to other large Mardi Gras celebrations and parades.
- Since 2008, Mobile, Alabama has lowered a 12-foot tall lighted mechanical Moon Pie during the countdown to celebrate the coming new year.
- In 2020, the company released a pumpkin spice double-decker flavored moon pie. Now you can eat it with your pumpkin spiced latte!
You can buy Moon Pies all over the United States. They are also available online!
What Is a Choco Pie?
A Choco Pie is a Korean sweet snack made from a soft marshmallow filling sandwiched between two layers of cake which is then dipped in a chocolate covering. Like Moon Pies, the company that makes Choco Pies branched out from the classic flavoring to give varieties such as banana, green tea, and more.
Often, brands that make Choco Pies release limited-edition flavors. At one point, Lotte made a cheese-flavored Choco Pie. Does that sound yummy to you? I wasn’t so sure…
Who Makes Them?
The first company to make and produce the ‘Orion Choco Pie’ in South Korea is Orion Confectionery. At the time, the company was known as Tongyang Confectionary. The snack became so immensely popular that they renamed the company after it. Thus, the name Orion Confectionery was born.
Lotte Confectionery followed suit a few years later and started making Choco Pies as well because of the popularity.
Choco Pie History:
In 1973, a member of the Korean group Tongyang Confectionery visited the southern state of Georgia. At the time, he ate a Moon Pie while on his trip. He then returned to South Korea and began experimenting with different types of ingredients until he developed the ‘Orion Choco Pie.’
The treat became so popular among children and adults, that the company changed their name from ‘Tongyang’ to ‘Orion.’
Fun Choco Pie Facts:
- Two Korean companies, Orion and Lotte, have battled for many years over the rights to Choco Pies. While Orion developed the product and brand, Lotte started producing the same product with the same name a few years later. The courts ruled in favor of Lotte stating the name is a generic trademark because Orion did not file for a trademark license until much later.
- Each year, Orion releases a limited edition spring flavor. Examples include strawberry jam in 2017, pistachio and berry in 2019, and strawberry blossom in 2020.
- In North Korea, workers at Kaesong Industrial Complex received Choco Pies in place of cash bonuses before the complex closed in 2013. Often, the workers would sell their Choco Pies for a high price in the North Korean black market. You can learn more about North Korea and the peoples’ love for Choco Pies here.
- In 2017, Orion Confectionery granted Choco Pies to a North Korean defector for life. At the time, after waking up in the hospital and healing from gunshot wounds, he requested Choco Pies to eat. You can read all about it here.
- In Jeonju, South Korea, a bakery company named PNB is famous for its traditional recipes. Of their recipes, they have a Choco Pie that may be older than the mass produced Orion version. Who knows which is really older. The famous Jeonju version does not have the chocolate coating on the center of the treat. This way, your hands do not get sticky. You can see a photo below!
While the original Choco Pie flavor are available in U.S. grocery stores, the special flavors are usually only available online. Even then, many limited-edition flavors are only available in South Korea.
Moon Pie vs Choco Pie: What Is the Difference?
Maker: In summary, on one hand, Moon Pies are an American-made invention. On the other hand, Choco Pies are a Korean sweet based on the American Moon Pie.
Flavor: The basic premise of Moon and Choco Pies are pretty much the same. They also look exactly the same. The main difference is in the interior of the treat. While Moon Pies have a graham cracker center, Choco Pies have cake instead.
Which Do You Prefer?
In the end, do you enjoy eating southern Moonpies and Korean Choco Pies? Do you have a favorite? If so, we would love to hear about it in the comment section!
If you would like to read further articles such as these, we listed some informative blog posts below!
Food and Drink Comparison Articles:
- Kimbap vs Sushi: What Is the Difference?
- Tamari vs Soy Sauce: What Is the Difference?
- Soju vs Sake: What Is the Difference?
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I grew up on moon pies living in Louisiana. I always loved the vanilla and banana double decker ones. Heat them for 10 to 15 seconds and you have a warm, fluffy treat. I found choco pies in the states about a year ago and liked them, but I will always be partial to my childhood treat.
Growing up I never thought to microwave moon pies! Yum!
I like both chocolate pies and moon pies. We have korean sister so I almost forgot moon pies name. I was afraid I confuse it with moon cakes so I was delighted to find your article! Thank you.
I’m glad it helped!!!
We had a South Korean exchange student who introduced is to chocolate pies. We like them better than moon pies. Would love, one day, to visit South Korea.
Everyone I know prefers choco pies once they try them! South Korea is absolutely beautiful. I miss living there every single day! If you do ever get a chance to visit, you can always email me for recommendations!!!