20 September, 2009

Vintage Sunday: Moxie

I wouldn't normally feature a current product on Vintage Sunday, but I just have to make an exception for Moxie, the signature soft drink of New England.

Introduced in 1876 - ten years before Coca Cola - Moxie was one of the first mass-produced soft drinks in the US. It's distinctive bitter flavor comes from gentian root extractives, and it is very much an acquired taste (I've heard it described as "medicinal root beer" and "root beer + ass.")

Moxie was wildly popular in the early part of the 20th century, regularly outselling most other soft drinks, including Coke and Pepsi. But the drink's sales began to slip in the 1930's. The company, reacting to broad fluctuations in the sugar market, diverted money into its sugar reserves and away from advertising. It was a mistake from which the company never recovered.

Today, Moxie is found on store shelves mostly in New England. It's most common in Maine, New Hamphire, Vermont, and on Massachusetts' North Shore, but I've occasionally found it in Western Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island as well. Getting it elsewhere is spotty at best. I enjoy it because of its unusual flavor (especially Diet Moxie, in which the gentian flavor is even more strongly pronounced) but I'm the only one in my family who does. As I said, it's an acquired taste.

The bottle at right is an early-1960's Diet Moxie bottle; it's part of a small collection of antique, vintage, and local-company soft-drink bottles kept on display at the Hosmer Mountain Soda Shack in Manchester.


Moxie is owned by Cornucopia Beverages in New Hampshire. They, in turn, are owned by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England, which in turn is owned not by Coke but by Kirin Holdings LTD of Japan (think: Kirin Beer.)

Hosmer Moutain Soda Shack from Steven Wood's Connecticut Museum Quest blog


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment on the Moxie post. My stepmother drinks a cup of this daily. She has done this for as long as I've know her (15+ years). My dad and her live on the MA South Shore so I know you can get it there....if you ever get the urge while vacationing on the Cape. :-)