Mainers hold 1st Moxie Festival since death of founder

Mainers are holding the 35th annual celebration of all things Moxie without the event founder who helped to introduce the quirky beverage to a new generation.

Frank Anicetti, who died in May at 77, loved the soda enough to create the Moxie Festival in 1982 and to turn his family's store into a mini-museum of Moxie memorabilia. He also paved the way to Moxie being declared the official soft drink of Maine in 2005.

But even the man nicknamed "Mr. Moxie" acknowledged the bitter concoction is an acquired taste.

"On the first taste, you may want to spit it out and throw it away. On the second taste you may want to do the same, but don't. Wait for that third taste to allow the true flavor of moxie to tickle the taste buds," Anicetti once said.

The theme of the parade on Saturday was "Moxie Salutes the Red, White & Blue." There also was a chugging contest described as "not for the faint of heart or esophagus."

The creator of the beverage was a Maine native, Dr. Augustin Thompson, whose brew was originally marketed 132 years ago "Moxie Nerve Foods" in Lowell, Massachusetts. What started as a cure for a variety of ills is currently bottled in New Hampshire.

Anicetti did his part to help keep one of the country's oldest soft drinks from fading away. He helped to transform Lisbon's former Frontier Days when the legions of soda fans showed up for a book signing by Frank Potter, author of "The Moxie Mystique."

It's unclear why he had such a bee in his bonnet for the beverage.

"Frank was crazy about it. It was a drink that Maine kids grew up on," said festival coordinator Tracey Steuber. "Why? I have no idea."

Before he died, Anicetti closed the store that had been in his family for three generations and auctioned off much of the memorabilia.

The store, formerly called Kennebec Fruit Co., is now a pub but retains orange awnings and door in a nod to the orange-and-black Moxie colors. The pub is called "Frank's."

Inside, there's a plaque with Anicetti's likeness inscribed with the words: "Mr. Moxie, 1940-2017, Always Remembered."