Moxie is a distinctly-flavored soda from New England. It’s specialty and a traditional favorite of the region, especially in the state of Maine.
Moxie was created around 1876 in Lowell, Massachusetts, by local physician Augustin Thompson (born in Union, Maine in 1835). Like many early sodas, it was conceived of and marketed as a medicine, called “Moxie Nerve Food,” said to be capable of curing everything from insomnia to “softening of the brain” and paralysis. After a few years, Thompson added carbonated soda water to his drink, and by 1884 Moxie was being sold both in bottles and at soda fountains, making it one of the first mass-produced soft drinks in the United States, and the oldest continuously-produced American soft drink (beating out Dr Pepper (1885), Coca-Cola (1886), and Pepsi (1898)).
Moxie is a somewhat niche drink now, but in its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century it was hugely popular across the nation, rivaling even Coke. It benefited from a massive and hugely successful advertising campaign. Particularly famous was the Moxie Man, first appearing in 1906, who pointed to the viewer and exhorts them to “Drink Moxie,” and the Moxie Horsemobile, debuted around 1918, whose drivers sat on a carved carousel-style horse.
Moxie’s popularity declined in the 1930’s, but it retains a loyal following, especially in New England, and especially in Maine, where it was named the official state beverage in 2005, and where the Moxie Festival has been held every July in Lisbon since 1982.
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