not featured in Food and Wine Magazine

March 29, 2008

Awhile back Linda from Milwaukee wrote to ask if I had had the chance to sample any of Maine’s local cuisine. I think that was the question. It was something like that. Anyway, it got me thinking. Other than lobster, chowder, blueberries, maple syrup – you know, the standards – was there any other food that is special to Maine that tourists don’t already know about?

Every Thursday I’ve been going to a local potluck dinner, and I took my question to my new local friends and the resounding answer was Red Hot Dogs and Moxie. They implied that this is what the true tourists should eat if the trip they are taking is a tour of Maine’s, ah, lower-brow attractions. So excited were they by my intention to delve into the goodness of local cuisine that these same friends – dyed in the wool Mainers, all – went out the very next week and bought some red hot dogs, just for me.

I had originally asked, “when you say red hot dog…do you mean RED? like the color red? like the hot dog is actually red?” Yes, Einstein, it turns out that is exactly what they mean. As to whether the red hot dogs are actually any good, a debate popped up between the Red Hot Dog Haters and the “Red Hot Dogs Taste Like Regular Hot Dogs” contingent. They couldn’t seem to agree if red hot dogs taste any different than regular hot dogs. And before you start thinking that this alone may preclude consumption of the RHD, let me assure you that I do love me a good hot dog from time to time.


Anyway. So the RHD gets grilled up and presented to me and I have to say, that was a darn good dog. The only noticeable difference was that it had a peculiar snapping consistency – it’s the casing that’s red and it’s crispier than usual. But overall, on the grand scheme of encased meat on a bun, thumbs up. My new friends were quite proud, with the exception of the contingent that still maintained that red hot dogs taste like butt.

What we didn’t have at this table of goodness, however, was Moxie. Moxie is a soft drink, and it was invented way back before Pepsi and Coke. Made here in Maine, it was originally some sort of medicinal tonic. The makers advertised it as a great cure-all for dementia and impotence, and if that doesn’t make you want to run right out and buy a case, well, more fool you. I looked it up online, and Moxie is the official soft drink of the state of Maine. (like, Maine, seriously?)

How have I not heard of this?

Anyway, no Moxie was provided on the night of the RHD, so I made it my mission to find some. I won’t bore you with the story of how I tried to find it in several local stores, but I will tell you about the local grocery store where I had to ask at the counter if maybe they sell Moxie? Even though I don’t see it? Like, maybe in the back, do you have any Moxie?

There was a man buying beer at the counter on the day I asked, and this wasn’t just any beer. This was one single malt liquor tall boy kind of beer, the 40 ounce variety, cheapest on the market, and he was buying just one. At 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. Which is kind of all I need to tell you about the way he smelled. When this man – a man who will clearly drink anything – heard me asking about Moxie he leaned over and warned, “you don’t want to drink that. That stuff is bad.”

WELL. I am not easily frightened. (Ok, maybe I am, but I am not easily deterred.)

I have found Moxie. I have bought one single bottle of it, and it is sitting on my kitchen counter looking at me. And here’s the thing – when I saw my Thursday night friends this week I mentioned that I had found Moxie and that I was going to drink it, and they laughed. And said they want to be there when I drink it. So I think I’m going to bring the Moxie to the next potluck dinner, and maybe I’ll even record the whole event in case I ever need to use it to prove that I, too, can be a Mainer. I have been eyeing the bottle of Moxie on the counter now for a couple of days, and I swear if that thing could talk it would be saying, I dare you.



  1. Go ahead. Drink the Moxie. Hey, you didn’t tell us how/why the hot dog is red. I bet that’s a story!

  2. Drink the Moxie, Anne. Drink it. DRINK.

    But drink it with another red hot dog. I think they belong together, don’t you?

  3. The hot dog is red because the casing is red. It’s almost like a sausage casing. The meat (and it being a hot dog, I use the term loosely) inside the casing seems to be very normal.

    Yes, I will eat another red hot dog when I imbibe on da Moxie. Two great tastes that taste great together?

  4. I love this story Anne!!! It made my day. I am happy to know about red hot dogs and Moxie. I can’t wait to hear the Anne on the Street report of Moxie imbibing. Linda

  5. If this thing makes me gag, Linda, just remember – it’s all your fault!

  6. I wonder if it’s called “Moxie” because it requires a great deal of it to actually drink the beverage in question.
    ~ MiS

  7. What a fun read Anne! Drink the Moxie.

  8. Apparently, Melissa, it is where the word moxie comes from….who knew? And clearly you need lots of moxie to drink moxie….

  9. Have you heard the slogan “Moxie Makes Mainers Mighty”? For real.

    Yeah. Anyway, for some reason Lisbon Falls (I think?) has a Moxie festival every year.

    It tastes like carbonated cough syrup, and not in a good way. You’ve been warned. Although my mother does like it, strangely.

  10. Drink it, Anne, I suspect it will leech less calcium than Diet Coke, might pursue some free radicals, but hold a bottle of whiskey close by.

  11. I second the having whiskey nearby!

  12. Loved your description of moxie. Bring some back with you when you are next with us!

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