Friday, February 27, 2009

Moxie Museum

If you're not looking for it, it would be easy to miss. There is no formal store sign. Just a bunch of printer-paper posters, mostly saying "Yesssss" and a vertical line of letters on the door spelling "M O X I E."

Yep, the Moxie Museum in Lisbon Falls.

Every "real" Mainer (and most of the outa-staters who live here) has heard of Moxie. It's definitely a love-it-or-hate-it drink. It was originally created over 130 years ago as a cure-all called "Moxie Nerve Food." It was reputed to cure everything from insanity to mental imbecility to paralysis to digestive ailments.

Moxie is the official state beverage of Maine. It has a very distinctive taste (and aftertaste!), flavored by gentian root and wintergreen. It used to also contain sassafrass, but that was outlawed in the 60s. (It also originally contained cocaine.) It has been likened to drinking a Fig Newton, or a gummi bear in milk, or (as my mom puts it) motor oil. (also root beer with bitters, but that's not quite as creative a comparison, although more accurate)

The Moxie Museum is run by Frank Anicetti. It is not affiliated in any way with the company that manufactures Moxie. It's not a museum in the true sense, more a collection of privately gathered memorabilia. The shop where it is located is interesting in an architechural sense, but it's also dusty, dim and cluttered. Frank himself has an encyclopedic knowledge of Moxie, and will break out into obviously rehearsed speeches at slightest provocation. The speeches are interesting, though, and he is delighted to share them with you.

There is even a Moxie Festival held in Lisbon Falls, the second weekend in July. There are an amazing number of events, including a parade, and reputedly around 25,000 people go each year. In the off-season, Frank says he is lucky to get 12 visitors a day (I was there for quite a while, and I think that figure is closer to 1).

While I was there I of course purchased some Moxie to take with me (regular and diet, which Frank says tastes more like the original product). The kids and I had a Moxie-tasting, where each of us took at least three full drinks of the beverage, as recommended by "Mr. Moxie." We decided that it was much better after the third drink, but still not something we'd want to drink on even an irregular basis. As evidenced by the half-full bottle that has been sitting on the kitchen bar for a week, untouched. And the can of diet, unopened.

Still, it was a trip and an adventure and I'm glad I went. Pictures, naturally. mk

Frank Anicetti, "Mr. Moxie," does his best impression of the Moxie finger.

Frank has Moxie bottles collected from around the world, many with little signs that indicate which country they came from.

More of Frank's memorabilia. Ted Williams endorsed Moxie, as indicated by the tin sign in the cabinet. My dad has one of those tin signs hanging in the barn at his house.

A Moxie fan in North Carolina made this airplane from Moxie cans and sent it to Frank.


Anonymous said...

It was very nice to see this...I now live in tennessee but was born and raised in Maine..22 years ( I am only 25) anyway, from time to time I google my last name..I also google images..being that the Anicetti name is very uncommon, it is very common for news and even pictures to pop up on certain family memebers. Your blog popped up and I read it, much to my delight. My name is Jared Anicetti and Frank is the son of my Gandfather's older brother.Making him a 2nd cousin to me. keep up the good writing.

Jared Anicetti

markira said...

Jared, I am so pleased that you stopped by my blog! I really did have a great time meeting your cousin Frank. He is an unusual man with an unusual passion, and it was such a unique experience for me to meet him and view his museum.

Thanks so much for your comment (and compliment on my writing). I'm glad I was able to bring a little taste of Maine to you in Tennessee. :)

melb13 said...

I have the word "Moxie" tattoo'd on the inside of my wrist because of it's definition and for that reason alone I have planned a trip to the museum when my children and I are up that way in a couple of months! I learned of the drink after my tattoo and saw this place is close to where we'll be staying so I am looking forward to buying and trying the drink! Thanks for posting about it... it's nice to know what to expect.

markira said...

melb13: I think that's great! I would love to know what you think of your visit when you get back. :) mk