Maine has Plenty of Moxie
Mahoosuc Mills is one hot bed of activity, and last week was no exception. At the monthly meeting of the Mahoosuc Mills Historical Society, we had a special guest speaker: the president of the New England Moxie Congress, Merrill Lewis! This caused quite a stir, as you can imagine. After all, Moxie is Maine’s official soft drink. No kidding! Governor Baldacci signed a bill proclaiming it so back in 2005. Course, if you grew up in Maine, you’ve known that all along.
Well, the evening kicked off with one heck of a surprise guest: this little fella, (Ryan, I think his name was), who Ernie Bolduc had seen down to Dexter when he went to his grandkid’s school talent show. Oh, my God! Ryan couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, three foot nothing and cute as a button in his blue jeans, plaid shirt and bow tie, mind you. That little fella stood on a wooden box so we could see him, and get this: he sang the names of all the presidents, starting with George Washington. Really! When he’d stop to take a breath, he’d hold up his hand, so we wouldn’t think it was over and start applauding. His mother stood to the side of the room looking like the blessed Madonna, she was so proud, mouthing the words. No sooner had little Ryan finished with “Barack Hussein Obama,” when the entire audience shot up to give him an ovation.
Then Ernie asked him, just kidding around, if he’d like to do an encore. Ryan hopped off the wooden box, whispered something to his mom, then jumped back up on the box and, I kid you not, recited the entire United States in alphabetical order, Alabama to Wyoming.
Now that’s a hard act to follow, but our guest speaker took it in stride. Course he had a little time to regroup, what with Ernie and a couple of other guys struggling to set up the screen for his presentation. And then there was the discussion as to whether they should wave the business meeting, which probably took longer than actually having the meeting in the first place.
Finally, Merrill took the stage, and proceeded to dazzle us with his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Moxie. Like I said, he’s the president of the New England Moxie Congress, which is kind of a Moxie fan club, I guess. It’s a bunch of Moxie fanatics who drink Moxie, collect Moxie memorabilia and get together for parades and such. Oh, and they wear orange, of course, ‘cause that’s the official Moxie color. It’s not quite as blindingly orange as Charlie’s hunting gear, but it’s bright. Certainly not in my color wheel. But Merrill, a nice looking gentlemen of a certain age, with a good head of white hair and a Florida tan, looked just famous in it.
So he told us how Moxie is the oldest bottled soft drink in the U.S. (1885) and it’s always been associated with Maine because it’s inventor was born over there in Union. It was originally called “Moxie Nerve Food,” and claimed to do just about everything shy of making your bed. Moxie’s “distinctively different taste” has been endorsed by none other than Ted Williams and President Calvin Coolidge, and according to Merrill, it helped win WWII. (Kind of a stretch, I thought, but we all went with it.) He told us how they added this new wing to the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage to display a 33’ high Moxie bottle that used to be a Moxie stand. Then it was converted into a house that people lived in, a Moxie bottle house. Remember, we’re talking fanatics, here!
We had a little reception after Merrill’s presentation, and the refreshments were wonderful as ever: mini cherry cheesecakes (the kind you make with the vanilla wafer on the bottom), whoopee pies, and Doris Bishop’s famous cream cheese and pineapple dip. And we drank Moxie, of course. I drink diet Moxie (I have to cut down on calories somewhere). Merrill said he prefers the diet, too, because “it tastes more like the original,” which struck me as odd, because Merrill didn’t look that old to me.
Well, we’ve been wanting to do it forever, but I think this is the year. Charlie and me are going to take a field trip this July down to the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls. Celeste and Bud went last year and had a great time. I guess the parade was a hoot, and Celeste had some Moxie ice cream she claims wasn’t half bad.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)