Friday, February 5, 2010

I'll Have A Moxie... So Long As You're Paying Me

I don't know if there's a better way to describe this soft drink, other than to give you some direct quotes I found while surfing the interwebs recently:

"I found some bottles of Moxie at a local BevMo. Upon tasting I found it to be terrible. Is this normal? Could my bottle have been bad, old, tampered, etc?

I can't even identify the general flavor of the stuff. It seemed to be vaguely like black licorice but then i was hit with a strong medicine after taste. I am not joking when i say i have had liquid antibotics that have tasted better.

What gives? This almost destroyed my faith in quality soda. I was going to switch entirely to Safeway generic cragmont soda. Luckily i had a bottle of Stewarts grape on hand to save me."

That one came from a guy calling himself Travel'n Jones on the soda industry website's message board. Below is the awesome response from a cat called drpep:

"Did it taste like a mixture of prune juice, motor oil and store brand cough syrup? If so you had a normal bottle or can."
The above quotes beg the question: How on earth can this soft drink A.) Still be profitable/sold and B.) Inspire a fairly rabid fan base rabid fan base? It's ludicrous! Let's talk a little bit about what this drink is and why it was, at one time, so popular that Ted "I'm the Best Hitter In The History of Baseball" Williams decided he would schill the product on signs and billboards across the country.

Moxie, like that other soda out there, started life as a 19th century "health elixir" made by Dr. Augustin Thompson in 1876. Several years down the road he added soda water to the mix (again, just like that other soda out there) and before you know it he's selling one of the first mass marketed sodas in the country (world?). Dr. Thompson himself described the flavor of Moxie thusly, "...a delicious blend of bitter and sweet, a drink to satisfy everyone's taste." Clearly the good doctor hadn't met many people.

Still, what made/makes this drink so popular? Why did a president (Calvin Coolidge), an MLB slugger (Ted Williams), and a famous author (E.B. White) all love the stuff? The answer, I think, lies in the world those people lived in. You see, America wasn't always a massive consumer of any and all goods that could be pumped onto the market. Once, upon a time, there was such a thing as "new" products. This means that no one had ever heard of soda before and, since there were only four choices originally (Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, RC Cola, and Moxie), there was a wide area of the country that simply hadn't heard of the others. By the time the Big Three arrived on the scene the populace of the Northeastern Seaboard assumed that soda was supposed to suck, and they were supposed to like it that way. It would take nearly 40 years before huge ad campaigns and a cola war would destroy any and all sodas that weren't Coke or Pepsi (really, when was the last time you've seen RC on the shelves? How many of you have even heard of Moxie, besides the guy that introduced it to me). However, very much like grits in the American South, lots of people hold on to their reverence of the stuff despite the fact that it is completely awful. So many people, in fact, that it was named the official drink of the state of Maine in 2005!

Several years ago I was offered a taste of Moxie. I hated it. Later that afternoon I was offered one dollar to chug a can. Afterwards, as I lay in agony on the floor, I made my friend give me two dollars. That showed him, I'll tell you. What did it show him? It showed him that I have Moxie!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Eli, I appreciate your insight! Now I never have to try Moxie, although I know I would if asked. And, I loved RC cola, it was like an inbetween generic and premium, I remember it tasting exactly like Coke. Man, what luck those SOB's who bought the original Coke. Reminds me of Denis Leary's song about the white powder. I guess we'll have to settle for Caffine, which will probably be banned later this century...