Moxie, Maine’s homegrown soft drink

There’s Coke, there’s Pepsi, and there’s 7 Up… but in the state of Maine, the soda they celebrate is Moxie. It’s a drink that sold more nationally than Coca-Cola in the 1920s, and it even gave us a new word, meaning “pick and verve and power,” said Moxie fan Merrill Lewis. “Few people know that word came from the drink.”


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Lewis likes to talk about his favorite drink at the Moxie Museum in Union, Maine, the birthplace of Dr. Augustin Thompson, who began selling his Moxie Nerve Food in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1885.


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Correspondent Nancy Giles asked, “What were some of the claims of things it could cure?”

“It could cure nervous exhaustion, loss of masculinity, imbecility,” Lewis said. “I like to say everything from halitosis to hangnail!”

Jim Baumer, who wrote the book on Moxie, said, “Moxie was basically the Viagra of its day.”

The drink’s heyday was in the early 1900’s. “Every major city in America had a huge billboard about Moxie, [as well as] sides of buildings with the Moxie logo with these ads on them,” Baumer said. “You had Moxie in magazines. Wherever there was marketing, Moxie jumped in and was a part of it.”

It was an unprecedented marketing blitz at the time, featuring Moxie songs, celebrity endorsements, a Moxie game, and Moxie candies.

Hear the 1921 “Moxie (One Step)” (music by Norman Leigh, lyrics by Dennis J. Shea), performed by Arthur Fields:

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And something called a Moxie horse mobile – a horse mounted on a car chassis being driven across the country.

The Moxie horse mobile.

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And a Moxie boy, with eyes like Rudolph Valentino’s. “Yeah, the guy that’s pointing, and he’s got dark eyes, and he’s pointing at you and saying, ‘Drink my Moxie or I’ll kill you’!” laughed Lewis.

And if the Moxie boy looks familiar, according to Moxie lore, he inspired the iconic World War I recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam.

“I want you to… drink Moxie!”

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Every summer (with a two-year break for COVID), people from all over the world have gathered in Lisbon Falls, Maine to celebrate Moxie, with parades; bake-offs, with such entries as Moxie Barbecue Baked Beans (“You should have as much Moxie as possible,” the chef said); Moxie memorabilia; and Moxie ice cream.

In 2000, when “Sunday Morning” last visited the Lisbon Falls, Frank Anicetti (who helped set up the Moxie Festival) stated: “If you drink Moxie, you have moxie – and you have moxie if you drink Moxie.” drinks. It’s that simple!”

By now you are probably wondering what Moxie flavors Like it. Well, it’s kinda hard to describe, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying. One man said, “It’s kind of like root beer and Coca-Cola and coffee all together, and you mix it, and it’s nice and hot [or] cold.”

Aaron Sheridan offered, “It tastes like a rough root beer.”

Brittany Payne, adorned with her “Ms. Moxie” sash, said: “Personally, I think it tastes like a little bit of flat root bear, a little bit of flat Pepsi, mixed with a little drop of cough syrup.”

So there you have it — a soda that inspired a word, and according to Moxie enthusiasts might be just what we need today. As Merrill Lewis said, “What this country needs is a lot of moxie!”

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Story produced by Mary Lou Teel. Editor: George Pozderec.

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