Thursday, August 16, 2012

Got Moxie? - Dispatches from Maine

In all the years I have been coming to Maine, I have never tasted Moxie until this summer.  Some might find that hard to believe, while others of you might ask “What in name of all that is holy is Moxie?  A reasonable question to be sure.

For years I have seen cans and bottles of Moxie with their distinctive orange labels and logos in stores here in Maine, but I just never got around to trying it.  Perhaps I postponed a sampling because of all the terrible taste descriptions I have encountered.  Advertised as “Distinctively Different ®,” some say it tastes like various brands of cough syrup.  Others suggest it tastes like a combination of these medicinal elixirs and other products such as prune juice, tobacco, dirt, gasoline, kerosene and some other items best left to the imagination.  Then there is the tale of a man who finds several old bottles of Moxie in his refrigerator and wonders if they are still safe to drink.  He takes one of the bottles to a local chemist to have it tested.  When he returns the next day for the results, the chemist tells him he is afraid the news is bad.  “Your horse has diabetes.”  You get the idea.  So I asked myself.  Why would anyone pay good money to purchase Moxie let alone voluntarily consume such an obviously vile concoction?  Why indeed.

So this year I decided I am going to try Moxie and make up my own mind.  It can’t be all that bad if it’s been around for so long, right?  Then again, folks here in Maine are said to be of a stronger and more resolute constitution than those of us from away.  Having spent so many summers here I like to think that perhaps some of these qualities may have rubbed off on me, certainly enough so that I can manage to consume twelve ounces of Moxie without too many ill effects. 

The moment of truth came during our most recent visit to Monhegan Island.  On the boat from New Harbor I bumped into a fellow wearing an orange Moxie baseball cap.  I asked him if he was from Maine and whether he had ever tasted Moxie, and if so, was it as bad as everyone makes it out to be?  It turns out the guy was from Minnesota and had not the foggiest idea what Moxie is.  He just thought it was a neat looking cap.  It was, but that is not the point.  If you are going to proudly wear the name “Moxie” in public, you should know what it is and whether it tastes good or not.  It would be the same thing as wearing a “Kitfo” baseball cap.  OK, I think I have made my point.

So one fine afternoon we were having lunch on the island and as a lark I ordered a can of Moxie as my beverage of choice.  I smelled it . . . so far so good.  It did not offend my delicate olfactory sense.   I sipped it.  Not bad.  A few more sips and I began to wonder what all the fuss is about.  It is actually pretty good.  I finished the can and washed it down with a second.  And before the week was over I had consumed a few more cans.

OK, I could tell you the actual ingredients, but I feel that would in some way destroy the Moxie mystique.  Suffice it to say that I can wear a Moxie baseball cap in good conscience.  These folks in Maine are on to something.
Check out my latest posting “Vacilando” at my other blogspot - “A Flâneur in Washington, DC.”  See:

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