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Maine's beloved official drink, Moxie, is the latest casualty in supply chain issues


Mainers have been having a hard time of it recently - or not - depends on who you ask and how much they like a certain drink.



SIMON: Moxie is the official state soft drink of Maine. Created in 1876, it's reminiscent of root beer with a bitter bite. Some people find it bracing, but that's only if you can find it. Hiccups in the supply chain are holding up Moxie shipments.

TRACI AUSTIN: We haven't been able to get Moxie in four months.

SIMON: Traci Austin (ph) and her husband, Tony (ph), own Frank's restaurant in Lisbon Falls, Maine, where you can feast on an entree named in honor of Moxie's creator, Augustin Thompson.

AUSTIN: Well, we have a burger that's called an Augustin Burger that has a Moxie onion jam, so the onions are caramelized and cooked with the flavor of Moxie in it.

SIMON: Coca-Cola acquired Moxie in 2018. The local bottler says they're working to get Moxie back on the shelves. Traci Austin has one eye on the storeroom, the other on her menu, with its Augustin Burger and other items that feature a Moxie barbecue sauce.

AUSTIN: We are now down to our last 24 cans, and from there we are probably going to have to stop creating those items until we're able to get the supply back again.

SIMON: And no thought - no thought - of substitution - no root beer burger, no sarsaparilla sauce. Glorianne Schott is another Moxie fan.

GLORIANNE SCHOTT: Other soft drinks just seem too plain and not, like, a full array of tastes.

SIMON: She lives in Bowdoinham, Maine, but her love for Moxie crosses state lines.

SCHOTT: So we lived in Iowa for 17 years, and trips to Maine meant that we loaded up the car with Moxie.

SIMON: She knows the drink isn't everyone's favorite. She's heard all the comparisons to medicine. But she thinks that Moxie captures the Mainer spirit of pep, verve, moxie.

SCHOTT: So I think that part of it is we're not wimpy. This is our drink. This drink is not wimpy.

SIMON: So Moxie is trickling back to stores, to the relief of Mark Stevens, who helps organize Lisbon's Moxie festival every July. He can't imagine not doing it again this year.

MARK STEVENS: We're up for it, and that's what Moxie's all about. It's really not about the soft drink. It's about the spirit of the people of Lisbon.

SIMON: And all other Mainers who love Moxie, the soda as familiar to them as the name BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music, is to us on this program. Our thanks to Maine residents Traci Austin, Glorianne Schott and Mark Stevens. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.