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nerve food

Moxie

[mok-see]
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.

History

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, inspired by 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 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 "Mad Mailman", a mixture of Moxie and Jägermeister; and "The Vijay", which consists of one part Moxie and one part 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 Mainers celebrate Moxie with the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine. http://www.moxiefestival.com/

Moxie is also available with a sugar-free alternative known as Diet Moxie.

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 is one of the six bottlers in the United States producing Moxie. It is located in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, 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 (see below), although it does not appear on Cornucopia's products page.

In common language

"Moxie" has come to mean "energy", or "pep", in common usage, and is included in standard dictionaries.

Origin of the name

The origin of the name Moxie is unclear, but two possible theories lend insight to the question. The name is most likely a Native American word meaning either "wintergreen" (one of the drink's ingredients) or "black water" (thought to be the reasoning for Moxie Falls, Moxie Bog, etc.) It is also possible the word is related to moxa, a type of mugwort burned to relieve various ailments and increase energy as used in East Asian medicine, and in turn would come from the Japanese word for the herb mogusa.

Trivia

  • Moxie was one of the few products advertised in the classic MAD Magazine. The publisher agreed to allow small Moxie logos to be incorporated into the magazine's artwork.
  • Each year, the town of Lisbon Falls, Maine, is host to a Moxie Festival The festival includes Moxie vendors and a town barbecue, as well a parade and public concerts.
  • In 2004, the Monarch Beverage Company introduced a series of Moxie-branded energy drinks similar to Red Bull to try to gain a small foothold in that market. They had little relation to the taste of the original soft drink, although Moxie Energy Drink contains gentian root extracts.
  • During the 1910s, one of the models used for print advertising was the silent screen actress Muriel Ostriche.
  • Although most often found in New England, Moxie can also be found in Pennsylvania at local independent stores and in other parts of the United States.
  • Hooterville, the setting of Paul Henning's high rated Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, was never identified geographically. The episodes gave intentionally contradictory hints. Though most seem to place Hooterville in the American South, Lisa and Oliver from Green Acres once drove past a "DRINK MOXIE!" sign within a relatively short distance of the town. Such signs were only common to the Northeast, and thus place the town out of the South or rural California.
  • A stolen bottle of Moxie leads to murder in John Guare's 1982 play Lydie Breeze. Moxie is described as, "Brown. Bubbly. Bitter. The lowest. Not my idea of a treat."
  • In the episode "Return to Spider-Skull Island" of the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show The Venture Bros., necromancer Dr. Orpheus asks for a "tonic", and specifically requests Moxie.
  • Merrill Lewis is President of the Moxie Congress and has devoted his basement to random Moxie memorabilia.
  • In an episode of The King of Queens, Doug has a specialty soda collection. He is most proud of his Moxie.
  • In the novel Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand, there are several references to the locals drinking Moxie. The main character describes it as "Dr. Pepper laced with rat poison."
  • In the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, when George M. Cohan asks Eddy Foy what he likes to drink, he replies "A Moxie."

References

  • The Book of Moxie by Frank Potter
  • The Moxie Encyclopedia by Q. David Bowers

External links

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