Friday, December 17, 2010

The Stout of Root Beer "Moxie" - A visit with The Moxie Man


I was very grateful for the upbeat and comforting welcome I received from Frank "The Moxie Man" Anicetti when I introduced myself as a representative of RBB. He did not seem to like the idea that I was categorizing his beloved soft drink as a root beer. I explained that we view Moxie as the stout of root beers but this didn't seem to change his mind. After all Frank has spent much of his life talking about the unique flavor of this Maine beverage staple. In his perspective there is no other drink like it. I think we agreed to disagree but this did not deter The Moxie Man from telling me all about the New England brew.

I was most interested in him and his store, my questions focused on the Kennebec Fruit Company located in Lisbon Falls, Maine and the Moxie Man himself. To clear the air I should mention that Frank no longer sells fruit, in fact it was long before Frank took over that fruit was sold in this establishment. The reason why people visit Frank these days is simply for the Moxie, the drink, the ice cream, and the merchandise.
Frank's great grandfather, Lomberto, opened the store in 1914. His father, Frank Sr., took over in 1953 and around 1992 The Moxie Man took over operations. In the early beginnings the store sold fruit and other general food and household products. The store eventually had a soda counter added where soda and ice cream was sold. Eventually the store evolved into its current state which most call a Moxie Museum.
Frank identifies the year 1982 as when things really began to change at the Kennebec Fruit Company. He hosted a book signing for a local friend & author, Frank Potter, who wrote the first book specifically about Moxie. "The Moxie Mystique" book signing proved to be a hit so they did it again the very next year. The local Chamber of Commerce sponsored the book signing the third year which brought out more and more Moxie fans. In 1985 the Chamber organized a parade in conjunction with the book signing. For the last 25 years the city has hosted what is now called 'The Moxie Festival" which drew 35,000 spectators this year according to the Moxie Man. The festival includes the parade, a carnival, live performances, arts & crafts vendors, a 5K race, a Moxie chugging contest, and on most occasions Potter can be found still signing his book. The Moxie Festival
A recent controversy was in regards to the purchase of the Moxie brand from Monarch Foods by Cornucopia Beverages, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola New England. The problems arose when they changed the beloved logo found on the cans and bottles. The pharmacist with his pointing finger has been held as an icon of this historic American beverage for decades. Cornucopia decided that Moxie may have some appeal for the younger consumers of the country and removed the logo fearing that kids would not relate to the pharmacist. This has not gone over well. They even removed the "Since 1884" which in all rights is Moxie's greatest claim to fame, being the first nationally distributed soft drink. I am not sure those guys a Coke fully understand what they have in their hands. Frank explained that he has met the CEO of Cornucopia at the last two festivals. Frank has pleaded with him to allow him to work for him to help promote the drink. Like most CEO's, he thought he was taking Moxie in the best direction all ready, boy do they have limited foresight!!!

Frank opens his store/museum every day 9:30am - 4:00pm except on Sunday with hours 12:00pm - 4:00pm. He gladly ships cases of Moxie and Moxie Merchandise worldwide, just give him a call (207) 353-8173

I extend my deepest thanks to Frank and look forward to seeing the reaction of my daughters when they open their "Orange Moxie Socks" on Christmas morning.

-Adam

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