Pre-1885: Dr. Augustin Thompson...short bio: born in Union ME...Civil war veteran, playwright, and homeopathic physician...set up practice in Lowell, MA, which was home to many patent medicines...wanted to make a cure-all which did not contain harmful ingredients like cocaine and alcohol. Note: no evidence that Moxie was ever commercially produced prior to 1885, even in non-carbonated form. Folklore points to earlier dates, but again, no evidence. Thompson was never a pharmacist, never worked for Ayer Drug Co. as sometimes alleged.
1885-1899: Moxie Nerve Food invented and patented in 1885. First bottled carbonated beverage made in America. Many wild curative claims. Attempted distribution in Atlanta, Denver, & Chicago, but never really took off except in northeast. Also introduced in lozenge format, but that did not do well. Fantastic claim that basic secret ingredient (now known to be gentian root) was discovered by Thompson's former comrade, a Lt. Moxie (he never existed) while traveling in the wilds of South America somewhere. Unique Moxie bottle wagons were used to dispense Moxie at fairs and amusement parks. Some ads incorporated then-popular "brownies" in them, others promoted a "health and vigor" theme (almost like today's "energy drinks").
Official Moxie Heading to Boston restaurant week? Cheers to Puritan & Company and chef Will in Inman Square who uses Moxie on its braised short rib! Check out the menu: http://www.puritancambridge.com/menus/food/
Updated Mar 16, 2014