Wednesday, July 14, 2010
There is something terribly wrong about my including a post on Moxie in a blog on bygone food. In my world Moxie is anything but bygone. If it were socially acceptable to drink Moxie for breakfast, I would. If soda in any form--let alone an especially delicious one made of gentian root--did not induce obesity, I would drink Moxie and nothing but Moxie.
That said, I've lived outside of New England and know that most Americans have never heard of it. Who am I kidding? I lot of New Englanders don't know of Moxie or, worse, turn their noses up at it because it doesn't taste like pure sugar.
Invented in 1876 as a cure-all tonic by homeopathic physician Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine, by 1885 Moxie was on its way to becoming a nationally-known soda. Yet in the 1930s the producers of Moxie backed away from their popular advertising campaigns and the soda's regard began to wane.
At least the sensible people of Maine knew enough to make it the official state soft drink.
One of my smaller goals in life is to turn people on to Moxie. Anyone who visits me from outside of New England has to at least taste it. Anyone who claims not to like it or who derides it as medicinal must try it three times before I stop badgering them.
Recently, Fox 25 News out of Boston named Moxie the best soda in New England. Don't think I won't be including that in my Moxie arsenal.
I vividly remember my first Moxie experience. My grandfather and I were walking down an aisle at a Trucchi's supermarket when I saw this bright orange bottle of soda that featured a man pointing his finger at me. How could I not stop? To my shock, my grandfather (a Coca-Cola man, I thought) agreed to buy the bottle. He seemed unusually excited, telling me how he drank it as a kid in the 1920s and how his father, a native of Nova Scotia, loved the stuff.
I have to admit that Moxie was a little too much for my pre-K palete. But I kept trying it and kept trying it until, finally, I was in love. When I moved back to New England a few years ago, one of the first things I purchased was a bottle of Moxie.
This past weekend I made it to the tail end of the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Sadly, I cannot report much on what happened there, but, while shopping for t-shirts, Moxie ice cream, and Moxie at Kennebec's, I overheard that at least 450 people attended. I've also read reports of an annual attendance of 40,000.
Hopped up on Moxie ice cream mixed with Moxie, we noticed some wonderful sights as we departed Lisbon Falls. I melted when I saw three kids laughing and sipping Moxie on a white front porch. The Jesus-Is-Our-Savior-Moxie-Is-Our-Flavor sign at St. Matthew's Church almost made me choke (with laughter) on my Moxie. Then there was a local bank's electronic proclamation that it was closed for the duration of the Moxie Festival.
Lisbon Falls, Maine. Where everyone has their priorities straight.
On a side note, later that evening one of the bright orange Moxie t-shirts we bought at Kennebec's alerted a distracted, cell phone-addled driver that our car was right in her path despite not being in her designated lane. Seeing our Moxie, she quickly swerved and avoided plowing into us. It's safe to say that a Moxie t-shirt saved our lives.
How can anyone not like this stuff?