There’s Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7Up…but in Maine, the soft drink they celebrate is Moxy. It was a drink that topped Coca-Cola’s sales nationally in the 1920s—and even gave us a new word, said Meryl Lewis, a Moxie fan, meaning “pluck, lively, and strong.” “Few people know that this word came from the drink.”
Lewis enjoys spreading the word about his favorite drink at the Moxie Museum in Union, Maine, the hometown of Dr. Augustin Thompson, who began selling his nervous food Moxie in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1885.
She asked reporter Nancy Giles, “What are some of the claims of things that can be treated?”
“It can cure nervous exhaustion, loss of manhood, and stupidity,” Lewis said. “I like to say everything from bad breath to happiness!”
Jim Bomer, who wrote the book about Moxie, said, “Moxie was actually the Viagra of its day.”
The heyday of the drink was in the early twentieth century. Every major city in America had a big billboard about Moxie, [as well as] “On the sides of buildings with the Moxie logo with these ads painted on them. You had Moxie in the magazines. Wherever there was some kind of marketing presence, Moxie jumped in and was part of that,” said Baumer.
It was a marketing campaign unheard of at the time, with Moxie songs, celebrity endorsements, a Moxie game, and Moxie candy.
Listen to “Moxie (One Step)” from 1921 (music by Norman Lee, lyrics by Dennis J. Shea), performed by Arthur Fields:
And something called a Moxie horse – a horse mounted on a chassis that was being driven around the country.
And a Moxie boy with eyes like Rudolph Valentino. “Yes, the man who points, and he has dark eyes, and he’s pointing at you and saying, ‘Drink my Moxie or I’ll kill you’!” Lewis laughed.
And if Moxie’s boy sounds familiar, according to Moxie, he inspired the famous WWI recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam.
Every summer (with a two-year break for COVID), people from all over Lisbon Falls, Maine gather to celebrate Moxie, with parades; baked goods, with entries like Moxie BBQ Baked Beans (the chef said “You need to get as much Moxie as possible”); Moxie memorabilia and Moxie ice cream.
Back in 2000, when “Sunday Morning” visited Lisbon Falls, Frank Anicetti (who helped create the Moxie Festival), stated, “If you drink Moxie, you have moxie—and you have moxie if you drink Moxie. That simple!”
Now, you might be wondering what Moxie tastes Such as. Well, it’s hard to describe, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying. One of the guys said, “It’s kind of like root beer and Coca-Cola and coffee all together, and you mix it up, and it’s a good warm [or] the cold.”
Aaron Sheridan introduced, “It tastes like rough root beer.”
“Personally, I think it tastes like a bit of a flat root bean, a bit of Pepsi mixed with a small drop of cough syrup,” said Brittany Payne, whose “Mrs. Moxie” scarf is adorned with her.
So here it is – a soft drink that inspired one word and, according to Moxie fans, might be exactly what we need today. As Merrill Lewis said, “What this country needs is lots of moxie!”
for further information:
Story produced by Mary Lou Tell. Editor: Georges Puzderic.