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Jerry Branscum unloads a pallet of MoonPie boxes in the shipping department at the Chattanooga Bakery on Tuesday. Chattanooga Bakery, the maker of MoonPies, shipped two pallets of the boxes to be given to U.S. troops as they return home for the holidays.

Vietnam War veteran Larry Webb recalls receiving cookies from home while serving in Southeast Asia and the difference the sweets made to him.

Webb said Monday he thinks the more than 35,000 MoonPies that Chattanooga Bakery is donating to returning U.S. soldiers will make a similar impact.

"It's a morale booster," said Webb, who's now Chattanooga Bakery's purchasing manager.

The company and country music performer Craig Morgan are teaming with the USO, the United Service Organizations, to give troops what they call "a taste of home" for the holidays.

Webb, who has worked at Chattanooga Bakery for 14 years, said the MoonPies are "a small way of showing our gratitude. We couldn't do anything too much for the sacrifice they've made."

He said it's not the first time Chattanooga Bakery has shipped MoonPies to the troops. Webb said the company has previously sent the snacks overseas to Iraq and Kuwait.

Tennessee native Morgan was featured on 250,000 MoonPie retail cartons this summer and fall and has actively promoted the campaign to his fans at concerts and online.

Morgan has also been on four USO tours, visiting more than 32,000 troops in locations including Afghanistan, Guam, Iraq and Japan.

"You would be amazed at what a simple taste from home means to someone who is fighting for our country," Morgan said in a statement. Morgan spent 17 years in the Army and Army Reserves. He's a recipient of the 2006 USO Merit Award.

Tory Johnston, the company's vice president of marketing, said that partnering with Morgan and the USO centers is "really perfect for this 'thank you' campaign for our servicemen and women."

The company's Manufacturers Road plant employs 130 workers and makes more than 1 million MoonPies a day.

A fourth generation, family-owned business, Chattanooga Bakery was founded in 1902 as a subsidiary of the Mountain City Flour Mill. In 1917, after a brainstorming conversation between a bakery salesman and some Appalachian coal miners, the MoonPie was born, and by the late 1930s it was the bakery's No. 1 seller as it is today.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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