August 5, 2007
A DRINK TO MATCH ITS PEOPLE:
Can a bitter taste find sweet life again?: Unique N.E. soda Moxie thirsting for a revival (Jenn Abelson, August 5, 2007. Boston Globe)
Moxie, the bitter soda that once outsold Coke nationally before fading to a quirky regional curiosity, is finally developing some . . . well, moxie.
Earlier this year, Cornucopia Beverages Co. of Bedford, N.H., bought the long-neglected brand from an Atlanta business, bringing it back to its New England roots and launching an ambitious plan to save Moxie, the country's first mass-produced soft drink, from irrelevance.
In recent weeks, the company has sent vendors across New Hampshire and Maine to peddle the carbonated beverage at places where prospective Moxie fans might congregate: at minor league baseball games, at a lottery for moose hunting permits, and at Wal-Mart stores. [...]
"There's a diehard loyal following here in New England, but it's pretty esoteric," said Justin Conroy, Cornucopia's brand manager. "Moxie has a unique taste and we have a lot of opportunity to grow it inside our territory and beyond. And we want to have some fun doing it."
Reviving the popularity of a drink that in its heyday had high-profile endorsers and fans -- Red Sox slugger Ted Williams promoted the drink, and President Calvin Coolidge is said to have toasted his swearing-in with an ice-cold glass of Moxie -- figures to be a long, hard slurp. Detractors grimace at a drink they think is too bitter and medicinal. Even longtime Moxie enthusiasts concede that their favorite soda is liquid tough love.
"You have to acquire a taste for it," said James Jannson, 61, of Shelton, Conn., a member of the New England Moxie Congress, a loosely knit band of Moxie zealots who collect Moxie-related memorabilia, promote the drink's availability, and get together for parades.
Jannson, who works at a winery, describes Moxie as a "root beer on steroids," and likes to pour the beverage in a chilled pilsner glass. "It's refreshing, a very powerful flavor."
Gotta be tough to market Moxie to flatlanders who have none.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2007 9:49 AM