Meet Frank Anicetti, arguably the best known person in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He also answers to “Mr. Moxie” or “Mayor of Moxieland.” Frank is the third generation owner of Kennebec Fruit Company on the corner of Rt. 196 and Main Street in Lisbon Falls.
Back in the day, when a destined to be famous local high school student named Stephen King frequented Kennebec Fruit, they actually sold things like oranges and apples! If you have read King’s recent time travel novel 11-22-63, then you have met Frank, at least in the
literary sense. You have also visited Kennebec Fruit. Nowadays, Kennebec Fruit is where you travel to find all things Moxie. Kennebec Fruit Company is a synonym for The Moxie Museum. If you are lucky, you will venture in that direction during the weekend of the second Saturday in July where you will find community living in Maine at it’s best ~ the Moxie Festival. Last weekend I fulfilled an item on my bucket list and aimed the old Subaru north on I-95 toward Lisbon Falls early in the morning to arrive in time for the Moxie Festival Parade.
Residents of the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont are known for their strong-willed, independent spirits. It is a natural fit that Moxie was invented by Dr. Austin Thompson of Unity, Maine, who was working in Massachusetts at
the time, and is now produced in New Hampshire. Moxie is the official soft drink of Maine (the only state to have an official soft drink). Moxie was originally known as “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food” a patented nostrum which had to be dispensed a spoonful at a time. To take advantage of the new and growing soft drink market Thompson put it on the soft drink market in 1884. Moxie became the nation’s first mass-marketed soft drink. It actually outsold Coca-Cola in 1920.
The taste of Moxie is as strong-willed and independent as the New Englanders who savor every bottle and can they can get their hands on, and celebrate the “distinctively different” beverage each year with it’s own festival. Early advertising slogans included “Learn to drink Moxie.” Tom Watman remembers, “when I was a kid, they’d give me Moxie mixed with milk, and they’d tell me, when I was older, I could have the real stuff.” (Yankee May/June 2011)
Thanks to successful marketing in the early years by Frank Archer the word “moxie” took on a life of it’s own. Having “moxie” is similar to having “chutzpah.” It means having an uncommon degree of spirit or nerve. If you have the nerve and strength to get the job done, you’ve got “Moxie!”
The “other Frank” Anicetti, as a local businessman, initiated the concept of the “Moxie Festival” thirty years ago to inject new life into the local community’s summer festival. The annual Moxie Festival grows larger every year. It has been estimated to draw up to 40,000 people seeking “moxie” in their Halloween orange shirts each year. Kennebec Fruit Company/The Moxie Museum is the hub of Moxie Festival T-shirts and memorabilia, Moxie tasting and best of all partaking of Frank Anicetti’s Moxie ice cream. The ice cream alone is worth a trip to Lisbon Falls, Maine!!
There were a lot of November 2012 Election Day “Wanna-Be’s” in the Moxie Festival Parade.
The “I’ve Got Moxie” Award for 2012 is awarded to United States Senator Olympia Snowe. If “moxie” is the “nerve and strength to get the job done,” then Senator Snowe ~ you’ve definitely got Moxie!!! Thank you for your years of unfailing service to the residents of Maine and the United States Senate. You have demonstrated time and again that you have the MOXIE and the courage to always do the right thing.
I ask again, Do You Have Moxie???