Monday, November 2, 2009


Tonight's post is a little off the subject of painting, but I have been pretty good about staying on topic of late, so allow me a diversion. I am going to tell you about a fine "tonic", as old time New Englanders call what those in the Midwest call "pop". This is my drink of choice and I am here tonight to advertise it. I should get paid to shill for RGH paint, Moxie and a few other fine products.

If you wonder what the official soft drink of American Impressionism was, I am guessing Moxie, now I can't find a photo of Willard Metcalf drinking it, but it came out of Lowell Massachusetts at the same time he did.
In his lifetime it was bigger than Coca Cola. I bet Hassam drank it too, who knows? Sargent was in Boston frequently for much of the last twenty years of his life. Since Ted Williams advertised it, Aldro Hibbard must have been a fan of it too.

Above is the one hundred and three year old, thirty two foot high Moxie bottle now preserved by the International Moxie Congress at their museum to the historic soft drink in Union, Maine. I am certain you will be exited by the line of Moxie collectibles they are selling. Moxie is the official soft drink of the state of Maine. Here is a link to the International Moxie Congress. This giant bottle was used as a promotional item and could be taken down and transported from venue to venue. Moxie was served from the bottle for many years and then the bottle became part of a private family cottage. As it was disintegrating a group of Moxie enthusiasts bought the thing, restored it and built a building to house it at a little Moxie shrine and Museum in Maine.

Moxie was first created in 1876 in Lowell, Massachusetts by a druggist, and was marketed as a patent medicine and nerve food until the food and drug administration came into being in 1906.

In the 1920's Moxie outsold Coca cola, but gradually lost market share, and is now mostly a regional curiosity in New England. Its some what bitter and unusual flavor is totally unlike anything else in the soft drink market. Some people love it, others hate it. My kids won't touch the stuff. I have been known to pack a couple of twelve packs for trips out of New England.

Recently Cornucopia beverages of Bedford, New Hampshire bought the Moxie franchise and is working to revitalize the brand and has even begun distributing it in a few test markets outside of New England.The brand once advertised by Ted Williams (in headier days!) is now easier to find in markets across New England and people are even selling it on e-bay for shipment across the country.

Here are the new 2 Liter plastic bottles of Moxie and the other updated and handsome packaging now available . These are bottled right here in nearby Londonderry, New Hampshire. Here is some packaging from Moxies remarkable history.

And below some packaging through the middle of the last century.

In the early 1900's before Henry Ford made the automobile common and affordable Moxie was one of the first company's to use the new fangeled things to advertise and deliver their products. Drivers in those days had to be mechanics and salesmen as well. Many rural Americans first saw an automobile with the name Moxie lettered on it.

Here is a link to a site shipping Moxie in gift packs across the country, so whereever you are reading this, you too can try this historic New England drink. They also are selling Moxie hats.


Unknown said...

When I first immigrated from another country (Texas) 25 years ago, to a strange land called New Hampshire, some local gave me some Moxie to try.
I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. But then we moved to Massachusetts, and we couldn't find it anymore. So I guess it's been 20 years since I've had any. Do they make diet moxie?
And, which came first? The name for the soft drink, or the word as an adjective denoting qualtities of fortitude and gutsy stubbornness?

still smells faintly of skunk over here.

willek said...

All through the fifties, I was a very skilled soda jerk in my dad's drug store. Every morning I brought up the tonic in quart bottles from a dank basement where it was stored. Ginger Ale, Root Beer, Orangeade, and Moxie. It all came in wooden boxes then, a dozen quarts to the box. No diet anything then, either. We all stood tall and drank our suger like men. I used to be able to carry four quarts between the fingers of each hand and the bottle caps cut into the fingers as I reach the top of the stairs. Earlier, it was served in Coca Cola glasses, then disposable cone shaped cups were used. Small were ten cents and a large drink was fifteen. But, I hate to tell you. Moxie was the slowest selling of all. Occasionall, I tried it and it was really really awful Only a few old folks drank it and they used to talk about the Moxie Mobile. ( A man dressed as a gentleman fox hunter rode on a statue of a white horse. A steering wheel came through its withers that drove an old Hupmobile or something. There are pictures around) I think it was reformulated a few years ago to make it sweeter and more palatable. But, I don't know.

And Deb, wash that dog in tomato juice and Massengill Powders.

JAMES A. COOK said...

you are the only painter that I know of that drinks MOXIE. I have been drinking it since I was a kid. It is my drink of choice and I to ,when I paint in the woods , bring my moxie. My POLISH grandparents started me off with puting a scoop of ice cream into the moxie because it was to bitter for me as a kid. Later I used to add milk to the moxie. Both make the drink like a dessert drink.Excellent tasting. Those who find the drink bitter should try it. Most of the time I drink plan Moxie but when I want a dessert drink I add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yumm.

Chris said...

Yeah!.. it's the only soda you can buy that contains the extract of a flowering plant most people in this century (who aren't gardeners) have never heard of: gentian of all things. Love it. That alone makes it a must buy. Hmm.. wonder why they don't market it as "a delicious gentian root tonic?" Probably wouldn't fly in middle America I guess. Or would it?

Chris said...

Stuff's great, but Stape you're gonna lose all your teeth. Then how are you going to clamp down on that Maduro while you paint?

Unknown said...

They do sell it at a soda shop called Galco's in LA. Of course that guy has everything. Cucumber flavored soda anyone?

Philip Koch said...

Damn it Stape, you let the cat out of the bag. What about the secret oath we all took that night atop Mt. Manodnack never to reveal the true source of our artistic talent...?

Mary Bullock said...

The South has their RC Cola and Moon Pies and we have Moxie and Whoppie Pies - Don't you just love America's diversity@ We just had a friend from Memphis visit and managed to get him to try the Whoopie Pie but could not find a Moxie on short notice. I think I might use your link to send him a 6 pack!

Stapleton Kearns said...

They do make diet MOXIE.The soft drink came first. I the expression must have come from the idea of it as a nerve food, I guess you would have lots of nerve?

Stapleton Kearns said...


They have nade it a little less medicinal many years ago I believe. There is a firm in Pennsylvania that still brews a more old time mix. I don't like it better.
MOXIE had an advertising gimmick where they fitted a fake horse into a car and used it in parades etc. They had a number of them. Some were old Lasalles I believe.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am the cutting edge, soon MoOXIE will be realized as THE landscape artists drink. If I could only find that elusive picture of Metcalf MOXIE is so New England, everyone seems to have a story about it here.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am losing my hair, yet I can still wear a hat.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You should get right over there and get a couple of bottles. It will help your nerves. With that new baby, you may need it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I laughed out loud when I read that. I have never used an emoticon or a hip abbreviation in this blog, but if I did. Boy, that big city newspaper art critic whimpered and complained as we were strapping him to the altar didn't he?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I didn't know they still had RC Cola! I used to drink that when I was a kid. Do they have NEHI grape? Orange Crush? Or are they all just headstones in the graveyard of forgotten sodas.

MCG said...

I have tried on numerous occasions to describe Moxie and candlepin bowling to people in California. They listen carefully, then their eyes grow wide, a smile starts to widen their lips followed by guffaws. When I tell them we used to watch candlepin bowling on TV while drinking Moxie, well, then they just call me a "damn liar". :]