Why Do We Drink Eggnog During the Holidays?

It’s December. You know what that means! Time for all the holiday cheer, holiday shopping, holiday cards, holiday parties, and holiday gluttony. And one more thing to celebrate: Eggs

That sweet, thick, creamy, butterscotch-colored liquid is the beverage of choice this time of year. But why is eggnog associated with Christmas? First let’s look at the etymology of the word. According to food historian, Babson College professor, and author of Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America, Frederick Opie, “Colonists referred to rum as grog; bartenders served rum in small wooden carved mugs called noggins. Thus the drink eventually became egg-n-grog and over time eggnog.”

According to Opie, eggnog has it’s roots in British aristocracy: “In the winter, the wealthy would drink warm milk and egg beverages seasoned with pricey spices such as ground nutmeg and cinnamon and expensive liquors like brandy and sherry to keep it from spoiling.” When the drink passed to America, rum was used. During the American Revolution, Opie explains, rum was replaced with moonshine since supplies of rum from the Caribbean were low. That scarcity could account for eggnog’s designation a special occasion-only drink.

The first recorded eggnog recipe dates back to 1775, and it called for rum. These days we can find the drink conveniently stocked in our supermarkets in bottles fresh from the local dairy and in a variety of other forms, including — one we want to try — Talenti’s Old World Eggnog Gelato. But you can also make the comforting drink at home. Why not try making Healthy Makeover Eggnog or traditional Holiday Eggnog.