A Look at Moxie

Moxiecan-edit

So, as I was getting all into root beer and whatnot, fellow SydLexia / Retrodrome / YouTuber UsaSatsui started talking about a beverage not available out here in MN (Moxie is strictly a New England thing, and apparently is the state soft drink of Maine.) “Satan’s Diarrhea” he called it, and even offered to send me some to sample. Being unsure of actually wanting to try “Satan’s Diarrhea,” I’ve decided to take a deeper look into the soft drink known as Moxie.

Moxie’s origins are in its use way back in the day as a patent medicine. It was purported to relieve “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia. (Wikipedia)”  Later on, its creator added soda water to create a fizzy, unique, possibly medicinal, beverage. Apparently, it must have tasted good as it earned the endorsements of President Calvin Coolidge and Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Even more surprising, according to the website, Moxie outsold Coca-Cola during the Roaring Twenties. Did I mention it is also the state soft drink of Maine? Surprising, especially for a beverage equated to Satan’s Diarrhea.

Okay, so now I have an idea of what it might taste like. Apparently, Moxie contains “Gentian Root Extractives,” which lend to its unique flavor. Hmmm, so an herbal/bitters flavor maybe? Satan’s Diarrhea? But former President Coolidge and Ted Williams drank it… So either they enjoyed eating shit, or had severely damaged taste buds, or maybe both. Either way, it can’t be that bad, can it?

Enough of this, its time to read some reviews. The Soda Jerks’ review of Moxie made it sound like a kick-ass root beer, until the aftertaste hit: “What was once good, would now be replaced with evil.  The taste of pennies, dirt, and un-sweetened envelope glue now dance upon your tongue.” Quaffmaster over at Weird Soda Reviews notes flavors of “mint,” “tooth-polishing compound,” “bitter herbs,” and also points out a “strong chalky component.” Reviews over at Amazon (wtf they sell this on Amazon?) note its bitterness and strictly suggest that it is an “acquired taste.” One review said of Moxie “I imagine it’s what tar tastes like.”

All this information is boggling my mind! From all I’ve collected, Moxie generally can be said to taste like shit. Now, only one question remains: Do I have the balls to sample this ‘unique’ beverage nicknamed “Satan’s Diarrhea?” I’m not giving a solid answer on that one. Maybe, but I’ll have to build up a tolerance for shitty-tasting beverages first.

Advertisements

A History of Root Beer in Brief

 

            Root beer has come a long way from its origins as a beverage. During Colonial times in America, Root beer was a light alcoholic beverage (about 2% abv) flavored with herbs, berries, bark, and yes, roots. Flavorings included sarsaparilla, vanilla, mint, licorice, sassafras, and hops.  Farmers would brew the beverage for get-togethers and other social events, making it a traditional style beverage.

            Later on in the 19th Century, root beer became better known for its medicinal properties and its claimed heath benefits. A pharmacist of unknown origin is said to have brewed up a batch and claimed it as a cure all. It was never very well received in this manner, and was eventually revived in a more traditional manner by another pharmacist.

            Charles Hires was also a pharmacist, but unlike our unknown pharmacist, Hires sought to preserve the flavor of a tea whose flavor Hires enjoyed greatly. He whipped up his own concoction of several of the herbs in the original tea and created a concentrate. Just before the 20th Century, Hires became a popular root beer and quite possibly the first commercially available root beer.

            As mentioned earlier, sassafras root has been used as a major flavoring in the root beer brew. In 1960 the FDA chose to ban the ingredient due to it containing safrole, a carcinogen. Safrole is also a major precursor to the drug MDMA, making more reason for the ban. Root beer wouldn’t taste the same for a while, or at least until safrole-free sassafras extract became available.  

            Today root beer is a sugary concoction far removed from its roots. Commercial root beers use artificial flavorings to mimic the rooty taste of the real thing. Some craft brews are available and use real herbs and roots, but nothing can compare to home-brewed (something I have not tried but should get into).

            Well that’s it. A brief history of root beer. Thanks to essortment for being a great source of information for this article.