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What is Moxie? Why Coke's new soft drink is already polarizing soda fans

Coca-Cola's newest soft drink is older than the big brand itself.
/ Source: TODAY

It's not often that a small, regional drink gets national attention. But when you're snapped up by one of the world's largest beverage companies, soda fans listen.

Thanks to Coca-Cola, Moxie, the official soft drink of Maine (yes, that's a real thing) may be headed for the big leagues after the soda giant announced that it acquired bitter cola with a cult following in New England.

According to its website, the funky-flavored bubbly beverage was invented and patented by Moxie Nerve Food back in 1885 — a year before Coca-Cola was launched in 1886. It was actually the first bottled, carbonated drink in the U.S., so it's no surprise that it was snapped up by Coke, which has been leaning into more vintage drinks, with products like Georgia Peach and California Raspberry sodas.

When it was created, Moxie was purported to have "many wild curative" qualities from its signature ingredient: gentian root.

Moxie, the state soft drink of Maine, was invented in 1885.Coca-Cola of Northern New England

But plenty of people not from the great state of Maine want to know, what does Moxie taste like? Twitter, of course, has a few answers.

Tweeters call Moxie "an acquired taste," which according to Moxie's website is something it prides itself on.

One person said it's like black-licorice "medicine water."

Another said the taste is similar to root beer, but chalkier — not necessarily bad, but definitely unique.

Despite (or maybe because of) Moxie's peculiar flavor profile, its fans are nervous that the big soda giant will change the flavor profile. Others are worried that Coke may shift Moxie's production or distribution location away from its current home in New Hampshire.

"Oh no, not Moxie!!!" someone tweeted.

One pub in Lisbon, Maine, which hosts the annual Moxie Festival, is famous for its Moxie Bomb Drinks, NBC 10 Boston tweeted, and doesn't want Coca-Cola's new ownership to take that away.

For its part, Coke says it's currently committed to keeping the soda authentic. "[Coca-Cola is] trying to keep Moxie true to its local roots in the NorthEast," Lucia Ouellette, communications manager for Coca-Cola of Northern New England (CCNE) told TODAY Food.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson confirmed in a statement that CCNE will continue to be the "exclusive producers and distributors of Moxie," and that there will be "no changes in formula or production locations."

At present, Moxie is only available in New England. But if the hankering for something sweet and bitter is just too strong to resist, it's also available online.