If you’re on the love side of the love-hate relationship that Mainers have with Moxie – the soda that tastes like it came out of someone’s medicine cabinet – then you’re going to love this.

Next weekend, at the annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon, the maker of Moxie Jelly will be teaming up with a local baker to make Moxie Jelly-filled doughnuts.

Shannon Bissonnette, the owner of Better Than Average Jams, Jellies and Sauces, created Moxie Jelly on a lark a few years ago when she was invited to the Moxie Festival. She made about a dozen cases of jelly out of the bitter-tasting soft drink as a publicity stunt: Buy one of my jams or sauces, she told customers browsing her display, and you’ll get a free jar of Moxie Jelly. But word got out, and soon a line of Moxie fans stretched down Main Street. So Bissonette started charging for it. “We sold it for $5 per jar or something – I don’t even remember the price – and they sold out within minutes,” she said.

That got the attention at the folks at the Moxie Beverage Co., which is owned by Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England, who asked her to make more. They gave approval for Bissonette to use the Moxie logo on her labels, and she made 20 cases of jelly – each case holds a dozen jars – for the Fryeburg Fair. That batch sold out in one day, so Bissonnette had to go on a scavenger hunt for more Moxie soda at local stores so she could make more. She ended up selling 20 cases of jelly a day for the next six days. “Isn’t that crazy?” she said. Yes, it is, especially if you’ve tasted Moxie.

At the time, Bissonnette and her husband owned a little cafe in Mechanic Falls, and they started using her Moxie Jelly on their pulled pork. Put a pork butt into the crockpot, Bissonnette advises, add a jar of Moxie Jelly and let it cook all day. Another tip: Frozen meatballs in the crockpot with a jar of Moxie Jelly and a jar of Moxie BBQ Sauce, which Bissonette also makes.

“You will have unbelievable meatballs,” Bissonnette said. “People who don’t even like Moxie will still like it.”

Bissonnette buys Moxie soda by the pallet now because Moxie Jelly has become her bestseller, flying off the shelves faster than her Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam or her Zesty Apple BBQ Glaze.

“We’re in about 350 stores right now,” she said.

For a list of Maine stores, visit the Better Than Average website. Most stores charge $7.95 to $9.95 for a 9-ounce jar.

Alas, Moxie Jelly is no longer being made in Maine. Bissonnette had to move her kitchen to Barrington, just across the New Hampshire border, when her husband got a new job there. But Homegrown gives it a pass because Moxie soda was created by a physician who grew up in Union, and in 2005 it became the official soft drink of Maine.

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