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.