LISBON, Maine (NECN) — New England's "distinctively different" soda has been sold to new ownership, and some loyal Moxie drinkers in Maine are split on the news.
The drink, first made by a Maine native in the late 1800s, is now bottled by an independent Coca-Cola franchise in New Hampshire, called Coca-Cola of Northern New England. This week, CCNNE announced it was selling the rights to Moxie to the Coca-Cola corporation headquarters in Atlanta.
"We take seriously our responsibility to ensure [Moxie] stays true to its Northeastern roots," a spokesperson for Coca-Cola North America said in a statement.
A spokesperson for CCNE says there will be no changes to Moxie's unique flavor, and the drink will still be bottled in New Hampshire. But in Maine, where Moxie is the official state soft drink, some Moxie fans are skeptical.
"It's got a huge following, and people like it the way it is," said Kristy Steinman, a bartender at the Railroad Restaurant and Pub in Lisbon.
Serving up their signature Moxie Bomb drink, which is Moxie with a shot of Jägermeister, Steinman hopes Moxie's new owners don't change the recipe that prominently features gentian root, giving the sweet soda a bitter aftertaste that some say is similar to root beer.
"The hype is, 'Oh, I hope they don't change it,'" said Tracey Steuber, the town of Lisbon's economic director.
She's also the organizer of the annual Moxie Days Festival and parade, which draws tens of thousands of people to the area each year.
"It's huge," she said. "The whole town is painted orange."
Calling the Moxie festival the main economic driver in Lisbon, Steuber sees her town's fate tied to the soft drink. And while Moxie's aftertaste may be bitter, she is optimistic that this change in ownership isn't.
She hopes the Coca-Cola conglomerate will be able to distribute the soda far and wide – and convert more people into Moxie drinkers. Maybe that would bring even more people to Maine for Moxie Days.
"We will continue to move the festival forward," she said.