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March 30, 1960, Vol. V, No. 23
The Return of Moxie
By John Wilcock
The golden years of a bitter drink known as Moxie were around the 1920’s. Then nearly everybody drank it. The firm is two years older than Coca Cola (which celebrates its 75th anniversary next year) and for a long time was just as well known. Today Moxie survives mainly as an adjective implying “pep” or “spirit,” and also as a gag advertisement in the background of Mad magazine’s strip cartoons.
By 1926 the Moxie Company, which had been founded by a Salem, Mass., doctor named Augustin Thompson, had grown so large that it built a new plant in Roxbury, expanded its operations nationally, and through the years fought and won dozens of court cases against imitators with such names as Proxie, Hoxie, Noxie, Noxall, Non-tox, Modox, Rixie, and Toxie…
What caused Moxie’s decline? Partly a changing public taste toward sweeter drinks, but mainly the fact that the new national firm ran into the depression in the late 20’s, and the high royalty charges demanded by the original company kept Moxie’s price up to 10 cents a bottle outside New England.
“The results, as you might imagine, were disastrous,” says Orville S. Purdy, who is vice-president of the Moxie Company, which still exists in Needham Heights, Mass. According to Mr. Purdy, Moxie is on the verge of a revival. “We expect 1960 to be our greatest year. We do not say in New England ‘Moxie is coming back,’ we say ‘Moxie is back!'”
The major factor operating against the firm at present is that distribution is spread over a comparatively small area of the country – New England, upstate New York, part of Pennsylvania, and southern California. New territories will be signed up later.
A few lucky Villagers will be able to satisfy their curiosity about Moxie’s taste this week-end. Bill Manville and I are giving a giant party at which Moxie will be among the drinks available.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]