University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Moxie Nerve Food, a Patent Medicine

Image: Original Moxie bottle. Photographed by Sonya J. Coleman, Historical Collections & Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia. Bottle reads: MOXIE NERVE FOOD, LOWELL, MASS.

Image: Original Moxie bottle. Photographed by Sonya J. Coleman, Historical Collections & Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia. Bottle reads: MOXIE NERVE FOOD, LOWELL, MASS.


Image: Moxie soda can. Photographed by Normajean N. Hultman, Historical Collections & Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1876 Dr. Augustin Thompson created Moxie Nerve Food, a patent medicine, while working at the Ayer Drug Company in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was sold widely throughout New England and later throughout the country – with the promise that it would cure everything from “softening of the brain” to “loss of manhood.”

Beginning in 1884, it was carbonated and sold as a soft drink, advertised as giving the user “spunk.” By the 1920s, the term “moxie” was widely used as slang for spunk, gutsiness, or courage. Moxie Soda is sold nationwide today, with a somewhat different formula but with a taste that many still consider unpleasant.

Dr. Thompson was a native of Maine, where Moxie Soda is now the official state drink.

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