If you're like most holiday revelers, you've got a few parties to attend this season. Odds are that upon walking through the door, you'll come face-to-face with a large bowl of murky liquid known as eggnog.
Your first reaction may be one of confusion, but try to keep it together. Although eggnog ain't much to look at, it's impossible to get away from. Around the holidays, sales of this gelatinous liquid skyrocket, and so do the Web searches.
In fact, over the past week, online lookups for "what is eggnog" have bubbled up to a 23% gain, and related searches on "eggnog recipes" and "eggnog cookies" spiked as well. But wait, nog lovers -- there's more. Online searches for "eggnog history" is starting to soar, and the equally mysterious "why is it called eggnog" is also posting gains. You can check out recipes here. Ingredients vary, but most recipes call for milk, sugar, eggs (duh), flour, and nutmeg.
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So, why is it called eggnog? About.com writes that there are a few theories on how the drink earned its unfortunate title. The site explains, "One version says that nog derives from an Old English word for strong beer, hence 'noggin.' Another version attributes the name to Colonial America where colonists referred to thick drinks as 'grog' and eggnog as 'egg-and-grog'." And remember, the name literally means "eggs inside a small cup."
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The experts over at The Straight Dope agree. Originally, eggnog was a combination of eggs and, well, nog. Nog being a "kind of strong beer originally brewed in East Anglia." The blog goes on to explain that various forms of alcohol have been substituted over the years.
The AARP, by way of Mental Floss, hosts an in-depth article on eggnog, and includes a bit on George Washington's own recipe for the holiday drink. GW liked to use three different types of liquor in his nog: Rye whiskey, rum, sherry. As Mental Floss puts it, "nobody could tell a lie after having a few cups of that."
Eggnog, in one form or another, has been around for centuries. In fact, according to Preferred Consumer, the drink was enjoyed by the pilgrims way back in 1607 (and you thought they didn't know how to party). Mental Floss writes that eggnog may have originated even earlier in the 14th century.
And while eggnog is often made with liquor (keep it away from the kids, parents), it doesn't have to be. You can get the same flavor from many a non-alcoholic recipe.