WhatIs Moxie?

What IS Moxie....Really?

Moxie was our nations first mass marketed soft drink. Long before Pepsi, Coca Cola, and the current variety of "new age" soft drinks with sophisticated names, there was Moxie. Well before Cokes it's the "Real Thing" jingle in the early 1970's, the country was singing "Just Make It Moxie For Mine" at the Great St. Louis Exposition.

The word Moxie is the only proper name that has made it to the dictionary as a noun synonymous with having "spunk" or "guts"( if you ever tasted it, you would instantly know why!). It's still common to hear of someone as having "a lot of Moxie".

Moxie was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1884 by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, ME. Originally, Moxie was touted as a patent medicine guaranteed to cure almost any ill including loss of manhood, "paralysis, and softening of the brain". These claims were revised slightly (more than slightly, actually) with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

By the early 20th century, the "Nerve Food" was carbonated, brilliantly merchandised, and became a household word. In spite of the claims restrictions placed on Moxie by the Food & Drug Act, many ads from this explosive growth period touted the "healthful" and alleged medicinal benefits of the tonic. In other words Quacks and Experts touting a snake oil patent compound! But... hey.... all those other companies of the time were doing the same thing.

Bottlers were opened all over the country. Frank Archer, who started with the company as a clerk, continued to brilliantly promote Moxie using every promotional gimmick known at the time. In the "heyday" the beverage was strongly associated with amusement parks, dance halls, and east coast resorts. These were places synonymous with good times, and the "vigorous" life that drinking Moxie was supposed to sustain. The horse drawn Moxie Bottle Wagons were a common scene at these locations. In the twenties and thirties, these were replaced by the famous Horsemobiles which could be seen at resorts, parades, civic events, and fairs. Pictured below is a September 1889 patent drawing for the "bottle" wagon.

Increased sugar prices, along with increased competition primarily from Coke, made Moxie what it remains today...once again a New England beverage.

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