Doing My Part To Preserve Maine’s Moxie Tradition
The annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls has chosen its official theme for 2011, and once again, my entry (“Death By Moxie”) has been rejected.
This isn’t a new occurrence for me. I also failed to make the cut with 2010’s “Moxie – Not For Internal Use,” 2009’s “Moxie – A Little Can Of Gadhafi,” and 2008’s “Moxie – Side Effects Include Nausea, Vomiting And A New Appreciation Of Dr. Pepper.”
Moxie is a soft drink and toilet-bowl cleanser that was originally created in 1876 by a mad scientist from Union, Maine, as a weapon of mass destruction. The U.S. Department of Defense credits the mere threat of employing Moxie-equipped armaments with ending the Spanish-American War, shortening World War I, and causing the Soviet Union to back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Even its most ardent supporters admit it doesn’t taste all that great, at least on the first sip. And the second. But they claim it gets better the third time around, after it’s had a chance to dissolve your tongue. They describe the flavor as “medicinal” and “bitter,” but they’re just being kind. It really tastes like Charlie Sheen’s moral standards.
Nevertheless, this native beverage (although it was actually manufactured and distributed from Massachusetts) has been embraced by Mainers, apparently intent on doing penance for some grievous sin. Each year, Lisbon Falls holds a huge festival, complete with a “Spirit of the Wolf Pow Wow,” a car wash (I can only hope they’re not using Moxie), a presentation by the local historical society (“The Clean-Up of Notorious Moxie Hazardous Waste Sites”), a parade, fireworks, and a musical performance by “Bob and the Moxineers” (doing their big hit “Moxie Burns My Throat And Stomach Like Your Love Burns My Heart And Soul”).
Unfortunately, this year’s event will not include a look-alike contest for the creepy scientist guy on the Moxie label. If it had, new state Education Commissioner Steve Bowen would have been an easy winner.
Anyway, back to the festival’s winning theme. This time around, it’s “Moxie – it’s Maine in a bottle,” which was submitted by a guy named ( no kidding) Jeff Moxcey of Waterville.
Like the fix wasn’t in on that one.
Next year, I’m sending in my entry (“Moxie – Proudly Supporting Local Poison Control Centers Since 1876”) under the nom du soda of Al Mocksea.
To be fair, though (oooh, a new sensation), Moxcey’s theme does have something going for it. A big old swallow of Moxie often dredges up a wide range of Maine-related experiences from paper-mill discharges to rusting refrigerators in the front yard of the trailer. Swirl it around in your mouth, and you’ll get a sense of the state’s poor dental health. Dip a doughnut in it, and you’ve got our basic breakfast. Spray it on the camp road to keep down dust. Splash some on your face and arms to repel black flies. Inject a syringe or two to ease the withdrawal symptoms from addiction to prescription painkillers. And keep in mind that Gov. Paul LePage’s welfare-reform efforts include encouraging low-income people to find employment by limiting food stamp purchases to cases of Moxie.
If you think I’m just making this stuff up (which, to a large extent, I am), consider this. Posters of the As Maine Goes Web site have uncovered the latest in a fearful line of Moxie-inspired cocktails:
Half a bottle of Moxie and half a cup of Maine potato vodka, mixed over ice. Before drinking, notify next of kin.
And local public-safety agencies.
As previously mentioned on this site, the Great Lost Bear in Portland serves a drink called the Burnt Trailer, which is half Moxie and half Allen’s coffee brandy. Bear management also considered offering the Welfare Mom (half Allen’s, half Diet Moxie), but opted instead to preserve such shattered remnants of their self-respect as could be salvaged.
Here’s one I made up myself:
In a tall glass filled with crushed ice, add two jiggers of Seagram’s VO, a healthy slug of Moxie and a dash of cherry bitters. Stir and serve with a garnish of pine cone and tassel.
I call it The Dying Lumberjack’s Last Request. Although, I believe it’s also known in some unsavory quarters as The Easy Solution To Solving The Shortfall In The State Pension System.
This year’s 28th annual Moxie Festival is scheduled for July 8-11. I know that will cause conflicts for some of you, because that’s the same week as the Roswell UFO Festival, only shortly before the Gilroy (California) Garlic Festival (this year’s theme: “Kiss Me, You Foul-Breathed Fool”), and around the same time as Gene Autry Days in Kenton, Ohio, a place with virtually no connection to Gene Autry at all.
Nevertheless, try to make room for Lisbon Falls’ claim to fame on your calendar. You wouldn’t want some mob of crazed soda-pop fanatics (like the Tea Party, there could also a Moxie Party) to take revenge on you for missing this event by strapping you to a rack and pouring Moxie down your throat until their bizarre annual ritual starts to make sense.
Or maybe you would. We all have our kinky sides. For instance, when Steve Bowen isn’t busy setting a new course for education policy in Maine, he probably dresses up in a white lab coat, gets out the rubber gloves and flasks and mixes all the leftover medicines in his bathroom cabinet with the unused chemicals for the septic tank.
And why not? Legend has it, that’s how Moxie was invented.
Al Diamon doesn’t hate Moxie any more than he hates celery soda, birch beer, beet juice, or Colt 45. Or any less. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.