12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog from 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog

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12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog

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12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog

Along with fruitcake, candy canes, Christmas cookies, and hot buttered rum, eggnog is one of those treats that, for many, no Christmas is complete without. But whether you drink yours straight from the carton or have a classic recipe that you whip up every Christmas Eve, we bet there’s a lot you didn’t know about this famed creamy cocktail.

Nobody Knows for Sure How the Name Came About

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Nobody Knows for Sure How the Name Came About

There are a few competing theories about the origin of the term “eggnog.” “Nog” could refer to either an old East Anglian word for a kind of strong beer, a Middle English term for a small cup, or a Scottish word for a hot poker.  Or it could have something to do with rum having been once called “grog.” Either way, the earliest-known written example of the word “eggnog” appeared in a 1775 poem. 

It May Have Evolved From a Medieval European Beverage Called Posset

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It May Have Evolved From a Medieval European Beverage Called Posset

Posset was a medieval European drink made with spiced hot milk and curdled with wine or ale, which was popular through the 1800s. Some recipes contained eggs, making the formula not too far off from modern-day eggnog. 

It Has Counterparts Throughout the World

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It Has Counterparts Throughout the World

You can find drinks that are similar to eggnog all throughout the land, usually with their own regional twist. In Trinidad and Venezuela there’s ponche crema, and there’s coquito in Puerto Rico, rompope in Mexico, biblia con pisco in Peru, eierpunsch in Germany, advocaat in the Netherlands, and kogel mogel in Central and Eastern Europe. 

In France, It’s Called “Hen’s Milk”

In France, It’s Called “Hen’s Milk”

The standard ingredients in French eggnog are about the same as those in the U.S. and the UK, but the name is different: In France and French Canada, it’s called lait de poule, or “hen’s milk.”

It Was Once Very Popular With the British Aristocracy

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It Was Once Very Popular With the British Aristocracy

The main ingredients in Victorian eggnog — milk, eggs, and fortified wine — weren’t cheap, so consumption of it was largely reserved for special occasions, like birthdays and (of course) Christmas. 

George Washington Served It to Guests

George Washington Served It to Guests

The version Gen. Washington served to guests at Mount Vernon contained rye whiskey, rum, and sherry, making it a pretty robust concoction. 

The Tom & Jerry Cocktail Is a Popular Relative

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The Tom & Jerry Cocktail Is a Popular Relative

The Tom & Jerry is a close cousin of eggnog, made with brandy and rum and served hot. It was once an extremely popular Christmas drink, leading Demon Runyon to write “… in fact it is once so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry” in 1932. 

Non-Dairy Eggnog Has Been Around Since the 1800s

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Non-Dairy Eggnog Has Been Around Since the 1800s

You might think of dairy-free eggnog to be a modern development only found in supermarkets, but in reality it dates back to at least 1899, when a recipe using coconut cream instead of milk was published in a book called Guide for Nut Cookery

It’s Killed People

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It’s Killed People

Raw eggs yolks can be seriously unsafe to consume due to the possibility of salmonella, and as it’s a primary component of traditional eggnog there have been some casualties along the way. In 1982, for example, 77 residents of a New Jersey nursing home were sickened after drinking eggnog made with tainted eggs on Christmas Eve, and four of them died. 

You Should Make It 3 Weeks in Advance

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You Should Make It 3 Weeks in Advance

Believe it or not, if you get the alcohol content of eggnog up to 20 percent (50/50 eggs to milk) and stick it in the refrigerator for three weeks, the eggnog will become completely sterile, even if it’s made with contaminated eggs. The overall flavor of the eggnog will improve over this time period as well, as all the molecules get to know each other. 

It Sparked a Riot at West Point in 1826

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It Sparked a Riot at West Point in 1826

Yes, there’s a thing called the “Eggnog Riot,” which took place at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point over Christmas in 1826. With drinking out of control at the academy, all alcohol was banned right before Christmas, leading to the thirsty cadets (including future Confederate president Jefferson Davis) smuggling in gallons of their own whiskey and whipping up a potent batch of eggnog. The drunk cadets got super rowdy and completely destroyed their barracks, and one even tried to shoot his commanding officer. Twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier were court-martialed for their actions. 

It’s Very, Very Unhealthy

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It’s Very, Very Unhealthy

This fact is most likely pretty well-known, but it’s still worth repeating: When you combine milk, egg yolks, and sugar, you end up with one of the unhealthiest concoctions on the planet. One eight-ounce cup can contain more than 500 calories, 20 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, and 60 grams of sugar. Remember that you’re essentially drinking liquid, alcoholic crème brûlée.

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12 Things You Didn’t Know About Eggnog