Monday, February 16, 2009

You Sure Got A Lot Of Moxie, Kid

Moxie is a carbonated beverage which was among the first mass produced soft drinks in the United States, and is regionally popular to this day.

Moxie was created in 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson, formerly of Union, Maine, while he was employed by the Ayer Drug Company in Lowell, Massachusetts. Accordingly, Moxie stands today as Maine's state beverage. Moxie was first marketed as a patent medicine in Lowell, Massachusetts, under the product name “Moxie Nerve Food." From 1928 through 1953 Moxie was bottled at 74 Heath St. in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, Massachusetts. The building, known as Moxieland, featured an advertisement on the roof along with an arrow pointing in the direction of Logan Airport. Moxie was said to cure ailments ranging from softening of the brain to “loss of manhood.” In 1884, it was sold in carbonated form and merchandised as an invigorating drink, which claimed to endow the drinker with “spunk”. In the early phase of its life as a recreational soft drink, Moxie is said to have been kept handy by bartenders to give to customers who were too drunk to be given any more alcohol. This story may be apocryphal, however, considering Moxie's noted aftertaste, which many people find unpleasantly strong.

The popularity of Moxie produced popular advertising jingles, such as “Just Make It Moxie for Mine”, and President Calvin Coolidge was known to have favored the drink. Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams endorsed Moxie. Author E.B. White, an adopted Mainer and noted Moxie fan, once wrote “Moxie contains gentian root, which is the path to the good life."

Falling out of favor due to competition from Coca Cola, demand for Moxie has waned in recent years, although demand still exists in New England. It was designated on May 10, 2005, as the official state soft drink of Maine.

One of the key ingredients of Moxie is “Gentian Root Extractives”, which probably contributes noticeably to its unique flavor. For those without access to Moxie, the flavor can be approximated (and adjusted to taste) by adding Angostura bitters to root beer, or by mixing Campari with Coca-Cola. Its bitter taste is also reminiscent of Italian chinotto soda.

Moxie has also grown in popularity in recent years in regions of southern Maine and Connecticut due to its mixability with certain spirits. Notable Moxie-based mixed drinks include:

  • the “Welfare Mom”, which consists of equal parts Diet Moxie and Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy;
  • the “County Girl”, a drink made up of one part bourbon whiskey and two parts Moxie on the rocks, with an optional lime garnish;
  • "The Vijay", which consists of equal parts of Moxie and blended American Whiskey.

Many people, even those who do not like the soda on its own, find it refreshing when mixed with whiskey.

Every summer, all things Moxie are celebrated at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine.

Moxie is also available in a sugar-free version known as Diet Moxie, introduced in 1962.

Moxie is currently owned by Cornucopia Beverages Inc. of Bedford, New Hampshire, which is owned by Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England Incorporated, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd.

Cornucopia cites fielding requests for more Moxie from fans across the country in their decision to step up efforts to distribute the product. In 2007 they launched pilot sales in Florida and organized a sampling event at Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The Catawissa Bottling Company in Catawissa, Pennsylvania is one of the six remaining bottlers in the United States producing Moxie, and has produced Moxie since 1945.

Moxie was previously marketed with the so-called "Moxie Man" logo. In 2008, Cornucopia unveiled a new logo, much to the chagrin of some fans.

A 12-ounce bottled version of Moxie Original Elixir is distributed to specialty grocers by Real Soda in Real Bottles Ltd. based in Gardena, California. There is also a Moxie Energy Drink, although it does not appear on Cornucopia's products page.


Anonymous said...

Moxie is nasty as hell. I find it difficult to fathom how people can choke down that swill. arrgggh

Steve said...

I like Moxie. It has a unique taste and I think it may actually have some positive effect on my health.