What’s Moxie’s ‘distinctively totally different’ taste?


“It’s sort of this indescribable, indistinguishable thriller in your soda, and that’s sort of what makes you retain wanting some extra, as a result of you may’t fairly put your finger on it.”

Moxie, the official state tender drink of Maine, continues to confound generations of New Englanders with its polarizing taste. Abby Patkin/Boston.com Employees

Frank Anicetti had a golden rule when it got here to attempting Moxie, New England’s home-grown — and peculiarly polarizing — carbonated beverage. 

“On the primary style, it’s possible you’ll need to spit it out and throw it away. On the second style, it’s possible you’ll need to do the identical, however don’t. Await that third style to permit the true taste of Moxie to tickle the style buds,” Anicetti, recognized affectionately to Mainers as “Mr. Moxie,” as soon as mentioned.

Whereas it’s the official state tender drink of Maine, Moxie’s origins can really be traced again to Lowell, Massachusetts, the place Maine native Dr. Augustin Thompson invented “Moxie Nerve Meals” as a patent drugs in 1876. The important thing ingredient was gentian root, an herb historically used to help digestion and irritation. 

“They initially mentioned that it could treatment every part from halitosis to hangnails,” cracked Merrill Lewis, a longtime Moxie fan and former president of the New England Moxie Congress — a fan membership of kinds.

Based on the College of Massachusetts Lowell, the drink was first bottled and offered commercially in 1884, and the carbonation got here a 12 months later. Now owned by Coca-Cola, Moxie proclaims itself the oldest frequently produced tender drink within the U.S. 

Nowadays, Moxie taste-testing movies abound on-line, the place one individual on TikTok described the drink’s odor as “root beer blended with cleansing answer.” One other on YouTube mentioned Moxie “smells like a post-Civil Battle hospital, earlier than anesthesia was invented,” and described notes of anise and fennel seed.

And the flavour? Because the soda’s tagline places it, “Distinctively totally different.”

‘Make mine Moxie!’

Alongside the way in which, the model turned recognized for its electric-orange packaging, quirky promoting, and “Moxie Boy” mascot. There was even the Moxie Horsemobile, a life-sized horse statue fastened to a automobile in an uncommon feat of auto — or equine? — engineering. 

“Someone got here up with the brilliant thought of mounting a horse on high of a automobile and driving it round,” Lewis defined. “It was an promoting gimmick, they usually had a fleet of those horsemobiles proper up by means of the Thirties or so.”

There have been Moxie endorsements from Crimson Sox icon Ted Williams, President Calvin Coolidge, and writer E. B. White, who is alleged to have written, “Moxie comprises gentian root, which is the trail to the nice life.”

And there was Frank Anicetti, a person who championed Moxie till his loss of life in 2017 and liked the drink sufficient to create the Moxie Competition in Lisbon, Maine, in 1982. 

Nonetheless going sturdy greater than 40 years later, the annual pageant attracts tens of hundreds of individuals with actions that embody a parade, recipe contest, chugging contest, and even a Moxie 5K street race. 

“Folks sort of prefer it as a result of it’s a difficult race, and Moxie is a difficult taste, so it sort of goes hand in hand,” defined Kate Madore, assistant director of Lisbon Parks & Recreation, which runs the pageant. 

As a cultural phenomenon, she defined, Moxie is sort of a celebration of life in all its quirky, inventive, offbeat, and mysterious methods. 

“Should you’re any person who doesn’t need to go along with the mainstream, you’re gonna say, ‘You realize that shiny orange bottle with a phrase that no one actually is aware of what it means? That’s for me.’ It’s unapologetic.” 

OK, however what does Moxie style like? 

The components checklist, which mentions “gentian root extractives” and “pure and synthetic flavors,” presents few clues to Moxie’s style.

“Persons are going to let you know that it tastes like castor oil,” Madore mentioned. “Lots of people describe it as having sort of a licorice taste, however that may be off-putting for some individuals who don’t like licorice. I’ve heard it described as like an natural or a bit bit extra medicinal root beer.”

Lewis provided an identical description: “Certainly one of our members describes it as root beer on steroids,” he mentioned. “There’s a bittersweet element to it.”

The bitterness, a results of the gentian root, has softened a bit over time as the quantity of sweetener within the formulation fluctuated, he mentioned. 

However, Lewis added, “it’s nonetheless obtained a bit little bit of a kick and an aftertaste that individuals both say is unbelievable or blech.” (For the file, he finds Eating regimen Moxie superior in style.)

Moxie’s taste continues to confound almost 150 years after its creation, although Madore mentioned a latest dialog turned up one of many extra correct descriptions she’s heard. 

“They mentioned, ‘It’s like a cola with a thriller,’” she recounted. “And that thriller is what Moxie is — it’s sort of this indescribable, indistinguishable thriller in your soda, and that’s sort of what makes you retain wanting some extra, as a result of you may’t fairly put your finger on it.”