QUESTION: Which of the following is a generic version of the carbonated beverage Dr. Pepper?
A). Mr. Pig
B). Sir Spice
C). Dr. Cinnamon
D). Father Sip
There are always new items coming into the American Treasure Tour - proof positive that there are treasures all around us! Many of them arrive without anyone on the blog team receiving notice. No news bulletins, no telegrams, no nothing. One day, we were on the tour and noticed something moving among our animated store displays that had never been there before. Oh sure, we questioned ourselves - there are so many pieces in the collection that maybe we just didn't notice it before. But how can you possibly not notice a little girl with a devilishly happy expression on her face as she pours herself some good ol' Moxie Cola? And so we investigated the source of her joy.
Moxie Cola, it turns out, is one of the oldest carbonated beverages currently in production in the United States. It doesn't have the nationwide distribution of a Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola, but it has been out there since 1876. Like all the early sodas, it began as a cure-all medicine - Moxie Nerve Food (honestly, that's what it was first called). It was developed by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. The good doctor claimed it contained an extract from a rare South American plant, but Thompson never disclosed what it was. It is now known to be a gentian root, which is a common flavoring for bitters and may actually have some restorative abilities to it, although it is highly unlikely to prevent the ailments Thompson claimed it could: paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness and insomnia. By the 1880's, Thompson was selling his Nerve Food in syrup form and in carbonated water, "a delicious blend of bitter and sweet, a drink to satisfy everyone's taste."
In the early twentieth century, President Calvin Coolidge admitted to a fondness for Moxie, and baseball great Ted Williams endorsed it on radio commercials. By the 1960's, Moxie became a favorite of Mad Magazine, and advertisements in the humor mag improved sales for a time. The company is no longer American owned, it is part of the Kirin Holdings Company of Japan, but it is still available in a limited region of the American northeast. We encourage you to go hunting for it and, if you find some, let us know. We would love to try it, too!
ANSWER: A). Mr. Pig. It is distributed through the Piggly Wiggly department stores, which are predominantly found in southern states. Good luck finding it, as it can be a challenge to locate. And, if you do find it and decide to drink it, good luck again!