What Is Eggnog?

There comes a time in a person’s life when they start to ask themselves the big questions. Questions about the vastness of space and our place in the universe, the endless coming and going of the tides, and, of course, the biggest question of them all: What is eggnog?

I can’t help you out with those first two (I have so little expertise that you could tell me literally anything about either topic and I’d believe you if you were confident enough). But eggnog? Ya girl’s gotchu covered.

What is eggnog made of?

Eggnog, as it turns out, is a lot like melted ice cream. It’s essentially a custard made by whipping together egg yolks and sugar, adding hot milk infused with spices and flavorings (famously a lot of nutmeg), and then finishing it with heavy cream. Whipped egg whites can be added at the end for an airy, frothy, texture—and booze, if you so choose. When the nog is finished and chilled, it’s basically the consistency of a thawed milkshake.

Does eggnog have raw eggs in it?

It depends. If you make it at home, some recipes will give you the option of heating it or not heating it (like this Alton Brown recipe). If it’s eggnog from the grocery store, the eggs have been heat treated during the pasteurization process, so you’re all good. Of course, if you add in egg whites at the end for froth, those are raw eggs, and consuming them presents roughly the same risk as eating raw cookie dough.

What alcohol is in eggnog?

Alcohol is optional when it comes to eggnog, but traditionally brandy or whiskey are the go-tos. Of course, if you’re following George Washington’s recipe, you’ll use brandy and whiskey along with sherry and rum. Dude knew how to throw a Christmas party.

Where was eggnog invented and who invented eggnog?

Back in medieval England, there was a “hot, milky, ale-like drink” called posset (which contained eggs and figs) that is thought to be the origin of eggnog. However, eggnog didn’t become a holiday drink until it got to the U.S. in the 1700s and farmers had an excess of chickens, cows, and cheap rum, ripe for the nogging.

What is the nog in eggnog?

No one really knows why eggnog is called “nog.” According to Time, “Some say ‘nog’ comes from “noggin,’ meaning a wooden cup, or ‘grog,’ a strong beer.” Whatever the case, by the end of the 18th century, the name stuck and eggnog was born! Before that, it was just milk punch or egg milk punch or egg grog, which all sound significantly less appealing and are 1,000% less fun to say than “eggnog,” according to some sources (it’s me; I’m the sources).

So later this season when you have nothing in your noggin and nothing in your hands except a big mug o’ nog while you’re sitting in a fog by the yule log, you can share a bunch of nog-related facts with the fam! Because now you know the answer to “what is eggnog” and so much more. I’m sure they will get a kick out of that. Or, they may not be interested in it, in which case, their loss. Nog facts rule!

About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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