Favorite things: Moxie

Proof that I am masochist, a wearer of hair shirts, a Yankee cold-shower taker, a Spartan and ascetic …. is my fondness for Moxie.

This is the official soft drink of the State of Maine, the original mass produced American carbonated beverage, invented by a Maniac (resident of the state of Maine) and brewed in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, where it was first sold in 1876 as Moxie Nerve Food, a patent medicine that prevented “softening of the brain” and “loss of manhood.” It gave a man “spunk.”

It tastes like crap — with a bitter aftertaste that only Calvin Coolidge could enjoy. E.B. White (adopted Maniac, Charlotte’s Web) nailed the magic ingredient on the nose — it’s the same medieval alchemist herb that makes Fernet Branca the shooter of choice for funny guys at the bar — gentian, the same thing that makes Jagermeister taste as strangely moss-like as it does.

Photo from the Wikipedia

Kids hate it, which means there is always an adequate supply for me (I consider Moxie to be the beverage equivalent of an anchovy pizza: an acquired taste, no one else wants any, the culinary equivalent of spitting on your food). It mixes well with alcohol, apparently giving rise to the Southern Maine phenomenon, The Welfare Mother. You can only get it in New England — but once upon a time Moxie was bigger nationally than Coca-Cola.

I love the stuff. So did Gloucester, MA newspaper publisher Phil Weld, who sailed a trimaran across the Atlantic in a singlehanded race in 1980, and eschewing commercial sponsors, decided to sponsor a softdrink, naming his winning boat, what else: the Moxie.

And finally, that emblem of Boston, flyfisherman, fighter pilot, and batter extraordinare — Ted Williams …. Moxie drinker.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Favorite things: Moxie”

  1. ok you’ve sold me on it, next time you come to Raleighwood, you’re importing a case of Moxie.

  2. oh boy Moxie! Good God, a soft drink that tastest like shit. My dog, which has a fdonness for Kitty Roca qould enjoy this. Maybe Moxy is the reason Ted Williams manm juice and man fishies have done so well in the cyrogenic coolers all these years?


  3. Goes well w/ Pussers rum, which is the world’s worst rum. It’s the classic case of two wrongs making a right. Don’t ask me how I know…

  4. I tried explaining to my son what Moxie tastes like and the best I could come up with is liquid shoe polish. I think the diet version has to be even scarier than the original. I drank Moxie a couple of times back in the old old days and I’ll be damned if I know why I tried it more than once. It’s said that after Ray Charles kicked heroin he took to drinking coffee cut with gin. Clearly he never tried Moxie.

  5. I went to college in Maine, fell in love with Moxie and invented a drink (I’m sure not the first one to do so) called the “Mighty Mainer”* – equal parts Jagermeister and Moxie (makes Mainers mighty!). I never picked up on the gentian root connection though; that’s nice. And ‘ol Teddy Ballgame a Moxie Man!

    *serve extra chilled (but never on the rocks).

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