Much like taking their kids to be terrorized by an inebriated Mall Santa or putting up a kajillion lights while spewing profanity that would make a Merchant Seaman blush, some don’t consider it the Holiday season until they’ve had a delicious glass of their beloved eggnog.
What’s the allure of a drink that smells like a stagnant pool of pre-cooked omelet and often has the consistency of gravy? Why do people stock their refrigerators like an A&E Hoarders case study with carton upon carton of a beverage comprised primarily of eggs and heavy cream?
One cup of store-bought eggnog contains 343 calories (with half coming from fat), 19 grams of fat (of which 11 grams are saturated fat), and over 150 mg of cholesterol. Why not just eat a stick of butter while juggling three loaded guns? That seems less dicey than a steady Holiday diet of Eggnog.
Regardless of those cringe inducing stats, Americans dig their nog. A business research report conducted by Indiana University in 2007 found eggnog consumption nationwide was 122 million pounds. Pretty hefty volume for something primarily enjoyed over a three month period at best.
A Brief History of Nog
The origin of eggnog is hotly debated. Ok, perhaps that’s an exaggeration. I’m sure it’s fiercely discussed at Amish dinner tables or quilting bees after they run out of butter churning stories.
Eggnog stems from various spirited incarnations from the “Old World” which featured drinks consisting of punches made by combining wine and milk.
In medieval 14th century, men sitting around a fire, looking to warm their bones would often enjoy an easily prepared cocktail called posset. While not originally containing eggs, The Oxford Dictionary describes it as “a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or the like, often sweetened and spiced’. It’s only until later where variations of the beverage began to see eggs added to the mix.
As the egg based posset became popular with the English, the rising costs and unavailability of milk and eggs, coupled by the pricey spirits used to spike the drink resulted in a beverage ultimately enjoyed by only the upper echelons of society.
When the recipe made its way across the pond to the New World, it steadily grew in popularity with the Colonists. This stemmed from milk and eggs being more accessible and at a substantially lower cost. They also began substituting the wine and sherry originally used in Europe with rum.
Lots of rum.
Back then the word “Grog” was often used to describe rum. So most believe this beverage comprised primarily of eggs and rum gradually evolved to the word eggnog we use today.
Another take on the word eggnog predates the “Grog” origin. Some believe it was derived partially from “Noggin”, a word used to describe a small carved wooden mug used to serve drinks at local taverns. It’s from these taverns that some say the Noggin filled with a mixture of Spanish Sherry and milk helped in another step to creating the term we know today.
Getting’ Noggy with it. Bits & Bites:
- Recipes for basic homemade eggnog dating back over a century ago 1 dozen egg yolks, 2 to 3 quarts of heavy cream, 1 quart whole milk, rum to taste, Sugar to taste.
- Standard store bought ingredients today: milk, cream, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, egg yolks, fat free milk, natural and artificial flavors, guar gum, salt, carrageenan, mono & diglycerides, red 40, yellow 5 & 6.
- President George Washington was a huge fan of eggnog. He put his own high spirited spin on the recipe by fortifying it with rum, rye whiskey and sherry. It was said you had to be of strong will and gut to get through his booze fortified White House version.
- Early American cookbooks listed eggnog recipes in sections for the sick and infirm. Ironically, these days it’s regulated and closely watched by the FDA due to risk of salmonella poisoning via raw eggs.
- Starbucks has offered their eggnog latte every year since October 1986.
- Online terms often associated with people having an unhealthy passion when it comes to the beverage include: Eggnogger, Eggnogiac, Eggnogstic, or Eggnogaholic.
- In Season 7 of Iron Chef America an episode featured Egg Nog as the secret ingredient.
- High-school runners in the Sacramento area began a traditional eggnog mile in December 2007. If you guessed that jogging while drinking rich copious cups of heavy cream and eggs would prove disastrous, you’d be correct.
- In Quebec, Canada the French translation on eggnog cartons read “lait de poule“ that when reverted back to English means “juice of chicken.” I suspect they don’t sell too much eggnog in Quebec.