By Maria Oldham
Photography by Med Dement
“My office is just kind of all things MoonPie. It’s a collection of things we’ve done and things we’re thinking about. It’s really a celebration of this iconic brand and people’s connection to it.”
One step into Tory Johnston’s office at Chattanooga Bakery—MoonPie headquarters—will have any visitor feeling at home, nostalgic, and possibly…hungry. Chattanooga Bakery’s vice president of marketing has filled his office space with MoonPie memorabilia and pieces dear to his heart.
Folk art dedicated to MoonPie is scattered throughout the room, along with many awards, certificates, and naturally, MoonPies themselves. In the center of the room sits a large wooden desk flanked by two cozy chairs, and against the back wall, a second desk sits beneath a colorful quilt handmade by his mother out of a collection of MoonPie t-shirts. Next to it, a corrugated metal sign in red, white, and blue reads, “MoonPie, American Pie.”
In the corner, the room’s “pièce de résistance” is a bookshelf filled with memorabilia, including classic, current, and never-to-hit-the-shelves MoonPie packaging. Among its many treasures, the bookshelf is home to mini MoonPies specially made for the Masters, Alabama and Auburn MoonPies, a licensed MoonPie lottery ticket, and a children’s book featuring MoonPies. Johnston’s favorite piece on the bookshelf? It’s a toss-up between the vintage 1950s packaging and the American flag, flown over a military base in Afghanistan and sent as a “thank you” for product donations in 2012.
Johnston’s office gives visitors just a small taste of his 15-year commitment to the MoonPie brand. Day-in and day-out, he helps direct promotions, advertising, merchandising, product development, market research, and packaging, just to name a few. It’s easy to see he loves his job—and it’s for the same reason he believes others love the brand so much. “MoonPie brings a smile to people’s faces when you talk about it, it’s so laden with stories and memories,” he says.
Since its creation in 1917, the MoonPie brand has evolved with the times, yet kept its classic s’mores taste profile, vintage feel, and funny, memorable name. Now as the Chattanooga Bakery enters its fifth generation as a family company, it continues to thrive in a hyper-competitive industry because of its commitment to keeping the honest and unassuming brand special, yet relevant.
The company’s mission is simple: remain a prosperous, family-owned business forever, and make a delicious line of snacks that offers better-than-average value to customers and consumers. And so far, Johnston and his team are right on point. When asked if there’s anything he doesn’t like about his job, Tory Johnston laughs and says, “Every once in a while, I wish I worked at a broccoli company. The ever-available supply of fresh MoonPies is a challenge.”
Chattanooga Bakery’s newest project has been a licensing deal with Ice Cream Specialties to create MoonPie ice cream sandwiches in St. Louis. The sandwiches launched just last month, offering a cooler alternative to the original MoonPie for hot Tennessee days. So what’s next for MoonPie? Well, according to Johnston, it’s under wraps, but he can say this: there will be some new varieties coming out that are right on trend…and tasty too!